Digital Solar Plant Testbed

Fast Facts

MEMBER PARTICIPANTS:

LTI (Larsen & Toubro Infotech), GE (General Electric)

MARKET SEGMENT:

Energy & Utilities

CHALLENGES:

Solar energy is becoming increasingly popular. Several countries in the world are looking at solar power as an alternative energy source. In fact in the last few years, the cost of solar energy has been reduced dramatically, making it a primary choice of energy. According to Tony Seba, renowned thought leader in this space, it is expected that many countries will select Solar as the primary source for energy in the next few years, as it will be the cheapest and most sustainable source. According to GreenTech Media, installed capacity will grow at CAGR of 5.2% and be around 900 GW by 2022. With the high growth, solar utilities face challenges in terms of operational and regulatory risks, maintaining efficiencies and improving the capacity utilization factor.

The key challenges for Solar Utilities include:

    • Varying solar irradiation and high intermittency of solar energy  leads to penalties and regulatory non-compliance for solar utilities
    • Future financial returns for the investors are unpredictable due to risks involved in operations and regulations
    • Degradation of solar panels and key equipment failures
    • Low efficiency due to changing weather conditions and variable equipment status
    • Unplanned shutdowns, costing utilities large losses
GOALS:
  1. Improve forecasting of energy generated from solar irradiation from 60-65% (existing) accuracy level to 80-85%, and optimum solar plant design to reduce intermittency.
  2. Improve solar plant capacity utilization factor by 10%-30% (based on technology and location) by fine-tuning the plant operating parameters.
  3. Reduce maintenance expenses of solar plants by 30%, by means of real-time condition-monitoring of panels, batteries, invertors, and other controllers.
SOLUTION:

The Digital Solar Plant testbed improves the ability of solar plants to reliably supply energy to main power grids by accurately forecasting electricity generated through solar irradiation, to provide insights, optimize plant output and reduce maintenance expenses by performing real-time asset condition-monitoring.

Renewable energy is a transformative solution to meet energy as well as economic challenges globally. The Digital Solar Plant testbed is an intelligent platform that drives optimal plant performance for operators, asset managers, and owners under complex grid & high-end energy forecasting requirements. While delivering an efficient real-time data analytics and decision support system, the solution offers multiple interfaces to engage with plant operations and ensures all stakeholders maintain real-time transparency.

FEATURES:
  • Real-time sourcing and analytics of the data in order to prevent any downtime or reduction in capacity.
  • Role-based dashboard for operator, investor, analyst, plant owner, operational manager, etc.
  • Articifial Intelligence/Machine Learning models to optimize the capacity utilization factor.
  • Advanced hardware and cloud platform for scalability and reliability.
  • Compatible with existing industry communication protocols-IEC 61850, DNP3, Modbus, CAN Bus and Wireless HART, Zigbee.
  • Capabilities to emulate solar plant under controlled environment to build analytical models.
COMMERCIAL BENEFITS:
  • Forecasting accuracy improvement to 85% (from current trends of 60%-70%) will save around $3 million annually to utilities (estimated based on current tariff penalties and assuming 40,000 MW grid connected solar capacity).
  • Average CUF (capacity utilization factor) is around 20%.
  • 20% Improvement in CUF would increase annual revenue by $33 million for all solar utilities (estimated at current tariff INR 4/kwh) 
  • 40,000 MW of grid connected solar power in India by 2021-22.
  • Annual maintenance cost is around $1000-1500/MW
  • Solar Utilities are going to spend $50 million/year on O&M (Operations & Maintenance) in India market alone
  • 30% reduction in O&M expenses will save around $15 million/year for utilities managers
THE TESTBED

Digital Solar Testbed provides a solution to utilities and all the stakeholders involved with necessary insights and a dashboard highlighting the status of the plant, forecasting, analytics and KPIs.

LTI has a framework which can improve the operational efficiencies for different types of utilities. LTI plans to implement this framework on top of GE's Predix platform. LTI is engaged with a company that manages construction and operations of a solar plant. The purpose of this testbed is to validate this framework at L&T Solar’s plant in Rajasthan, India.

This testbed will be implemented in five phases. Phase One will consist of framework validation; phase two would include the development of the asset model and infrastructure setup. In the third phase, everything will be connected. In Phase Four, analytics will get implemented, along with the necessary visualization. Phase Five is planned to do monitoring of the performance of the plant, and validate our hypothesis about the analytics.

Interested in learning more about the Digital Solar Plant Testbed? Email us!


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