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Solar investors have traditionally focused on monitoring the status and performance of their installations. But, as the solar industry matures, it’s clear that monitoring alone is no longer enough.
Why? The growth of grid-tied renewable power is one reason. Integrating more intermittent renewable energy into power grids requires a new level of control. Solar installations operating without advanced control features will be taking significant — and unnecessary — risks.
Also, basic monitoring doesn’t give you all the data you need or the tools to analyze it. Better data and analysis tools help you understand the long-term variations which can affect a PV power plant, degrade its performance, and put your return on investment at risk.
What to look for in a monitoring solution
When considering a monitoring solution for a power plant or other large PV installation, keep a few things in mind. First of all, the solution should not only monitor your power plant, but also let you control it and track its performance over the long term.
To accomplish this, the solution should cover the entire balance of system, from the DC string level to the grid connection, including inverters, transformers, switchgear status, auxiliary consumption, and meteorological sensors. Gathering data from the inverters alone won’t give you a full picture of system performance.