Tag Archives: photovoltaic systems

PV Monitoring

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PV installations are usually installed at remote areas, requiring maintenance teams to spend vast amounts of time to travel to the site. Furthermore, if the cause of problem could not be identified during the first visit or if the personnel did not bring the right spare parts or tools, another trip would be needed. This can be extremely time consuming, causing loss of productivity.

With Phoenix Contact’s PV monitoring system, this can help to minimise the downtime as we are able to monitor the PV plant in real time and obtain comprehensive data. Examples of equipment and readings that can be monitored are: inverters, energy meters, weather condition and even down to every string of the PV panel. If there is any anomaly, an alarm notification would be send to personnel via SMS or email. This is made possible by incorporating a 3G/4G router which can also allow access to the system from other parts of the world.

Samples of data tables

Another reading which has been requested by many owners of solar plants is historical trends with regards to the efficiency of their plant. To store such a large amount of data at the local controller is not a good idea, furthermore security and performance issues which would possibly affect the local controller could arise.  By having the data pushed to cloud storage, it is possible to send the entire plant’s data into the cloud. From the cloud’s database, the data can then be re-organised into trends for further analysis.  The historical trends are useful for optimising the productivity of the solar energy plant. For example, we could see the amount of energy generated with respect to the weather condition. From these sets of data, we will be able to tell if the PV Panel is generating the expected energy output. Any anomalies in the respective PV Panels can then be identified immediately.  With the implementation of such data, the inefficiency of the solar plant would be minimised.

Samples of trend data

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Solar Power Energy – Standalone System (PLTS)

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A solar power plant, also known as Pembangkit Listrik Tenaga Surya (PLTS) in Indonesian, is a power generation system that uses solar cells (photovoltaic, PV) to convert sunlight into electrical energy.

Indonesia has vast landmass, a lot of which are remote areas. Thus, it is not possible for all to be connected to the grid (PLN = Perusahaan Listrik Negara = State Electricity Enterprise). However, with abundant sunshine all year round, Indonesia has the ideal setting with a high potential for solar power.

Currently, there are hundreds of small islands in Indonesia that have been installed with a Centralized PLTS. For islands or remote areas that receive general government assistance, the standalone PLTS have an output capacity of 5, 10, 15 and 30 kWp.

Solar Power Energy – Standalone PLTS

Example of a 2KW standalone solar power system

Image by Free Sun Power (http://freesunpower.com)

Called a standalone System or Off-Grid System because the system relies solely on solar energy as the main energy source. It utilizes a solar module circuit to generate electrical energy in accordance with the needs that have been planned.

Solar energy can be converted into electrical energy through the use of solar cells (photovoltaic). Solar cells are components that can convert solar light energy into electrical energy using the principle of the Photovoltaic effect.

The working principle of the photovoltaic effect is the emergence of an electric voltage due to the connection or contact of two electrodes connected to a solid or liquid system when obtaining light energy.

Image by University of Calgary – Energy Education (http://energyeducation.ca/wiki/images/1/11/Photovoltaiceffect.png)

Benefits of using Solar Energy :

  1. Solar energy is abundant and free
  2. Environmentally friendly
  3. Long life time period of use around 25 – 30 years
  4. Cheap maintenance costs
  5. Not Noise (Silent)

Disadvantage of using Solar Energy :

  1. Dependency on the weather
  2. Requires large area for installation of solar modules
  3. Big investment for initial installation solar energy

Efficiency of the PLTS (commonly around 80% – 93%) is determined by the degree of irradiation of the sun (the greater the irradiation value, the greater the power it can generate), the environmental (mountain or sea) temperature, dust and type of solar module, controller, inverter, losses of long cables.

So what makes up a PLTS Standalone System/Off-grid system:

  1. Solar Module
    Solar ModuleThe main function of a solar module is to convert solar energy into electrical energy. A Solar module consists of a number of silicon cells which when illuminated by the sun, will produce photons that can generate electrical current. A set of Solar Panels in one system is called an Array. Generally the most widely used solar modules are crystalline type either Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline. While thin film solar modules are still rarely used (in Indonesia). A solar cell can produce a voltage of approximately 0.5 volts. So a 12 volt solar cell consist of about 36 cells.PLTS Off-grid will consist of several solar modules according to their capacity. For example, a 10 kWp PLTS will consist of 50 units of 200 Wp solar modules or 100 units of 100 Wp solar modules. These solar module is arranged in series and parallel with certain configuration.
  1. Combiner Box
    Combiner BoxIn a solar power plant, solar panels can be arrayed in parallel to produce a larger current. Combiner boxes are  used to connect the positive foot of solar panels to one another. Similarly, for negative legs. The positive foot end of the solar panel is connected to the positive charge controller leg and so is the negative leg. The resulting solar panel voltage will be used by the charge controller to charge the battery.
  2. Fuse
    The fuse is a component to protect PLTS / PV network system. In the event of a short circuit or over-current on the circuit or other load, it cuts the flow of electricity.
  3. Charge Controller
    A tool to regulate the current and voltage both to the incoming current and voltage of the PV panel as well as outflow / used load currents. The voltage and current entering the battery should be as intended. When either is larger or smaller than the specified range, then the battery or other equipment will be damaged. In addition, the charge controller also serves as a guard to ensure the resulting output power remains optimal, in order to achieve Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT).
  4. Inverter
    Inverter is a converter that will change the DC voltage (48VDC, 24VDC or 12VDC) on the battery into AC voltage (220VAC or 120VAC) at the output will be channeled to the load. Off-grid inverter can adjust the amount of output power based on the amount of load. so it can be used to turn on household electricity such as lamps, fans, television, etc.
  5. Battery
    In a standalone system , the battery serves to store the solar energy generated during the day so that the energy can be used both in the day and night.The voltage on the battery bank PLTS is generally 48VDC, 24VDC or 12VDC. The battery type that is widely used for such applications is usually a Lead-Acid type, either OPzS (wet battery) or OPzV (dry battery). Batteries used in the PLTS system are a deep cycle type  which means the battery can be discharged up to 80% capacity (80% DOD).In addition to Lead Acid, the other battery type that can be used on a PLTS system is the  Lithium battery. As with any battery on our mobile phone, lithium batteries are known as batteries with high energy density which means the same volume of energy that can be stored by lithium batteries larger than other batteries.
  6. AC Breaker
    The AC Breaker is required to limit the power of the inverter so that the power being injected does not exceed the existing load, resulting in a fire.
  7. KWH Meter
    To measure the amount of electrical energy that has been produced by solar panel can be used kwh meter.

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Photovoltaic Monitoring System With Visualisation – A Project with ITE College East

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Photovoltaic (PV) Monitoring System With Visualisation

The Photovoltaic (PV) monitoring system was designed to monitor the performance of the PV panels’ output versus the temperature on the PV panel. There were two different types of PV panels used for monitoring, namely the mono-crystalline and amorphous silicone (Thin Film). The data that was collected were the DC output and the temperature on the PV panels.

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Junction Box for Crystalline or Thin-Film Photovoltaic Modules

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The new photovoltaic module junction boxes from Phoenix Contact for crystalline or thin-film photovoltaic modules have been developed to supplement the Sunclix product range at the module interface.

Our developers paid special attention to automation and process safety. Using the junction boxes contributes to the optimization of module production processes.

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