BENNING SOLAR Portal: your personal control centre
On 4 November 2015, the German Federal Cabinet agreed a government draft for a law concerning the digitalisation of the German Energy Generation Revolution, which had been presented by the BMWI (Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy). This states that all operators of photovoltaic power generators with an output of over seven kilowatts should have an intelligent measuring system fitted. The system’s efficient and reliable operation should optimise energy supply. This could bring about a considerable additional increase in the significance of photovoltaic, which is already relatively substantial.
At the present time, solar energy constitutes about seven per cent of the net power consumption in the whole of Germany. This is forecast to double by the year 2020.
New demands and requirements needed for a monitoring system
The pioneers in the photovoltaic sector had to manage without any monitoring of basic components whatsoever. Today, entirely new requirements and demands on solar generator monitoring systems are needed. And these shouldn’t be limited to representing simple production values, but should indicate as many different measurement values as possible – and for good reason.
In some European countries the delivery costs for electrical energy are already higher than the costs for PV energy produced in-house. So photovoltaic plants are increasingly being used for in-house consumption to reduce the costs of supplying power.
This example shows that the operator of a solar production plant is no longer merely interested in a value for daily earnings; they equally need an overview of in-house consumption and power supplied by the grid operator.
However, this falls far short of fulfilling the requirements placed on a modern, user-friendly monitoring system. Even the way in which the measurement results are presented is highly relevant at the present time. As far as possible, the motto is: “Fast, flexible and intelligent”. Trends such as Smart Home and Industry 4.0 are already demonstrating how a successful connection between machines and the Internet can function. So why shouldn’t an approach like this be incorporated into a future software development for the monitoring of photovoltaic plants?
In order to fully meet the above-mentioned claims here and now, BENNING has redesigned the BENNING SOLAR Portal as a monitoring and analysis platform. It delivers a comprehensive, yet flexible and easy-to-understand representation of on-going operating conditions.
Online system monitoring via the BENNING SOLAR Portal
All BENNING SOLAR inverters are supplied with an on-board data logger and an integrated web server, so that each inverter can send actual measurement values to the BENNING SOLAR Online Portal. This can be conveniently managed via a PC or mobile phone, independently of the operating system, without the need to purchase an additional communication box. In the event of using a number of inverters in a single PV plant, one of the devices will take over the master function. Communication between individual inverters via serial interfaces is quick and secure. It constantly provides comprehensive report updates that analyse present earning values, etc.; and evaluates operating conditions or compares different inverters with one another. This means that you are continually informed on how your plant is currently working, and whether it is producing the expected earnings value.
Update goal: Visualising on-going operating conditions in a comprehensible form.
Not all operators of photovoltaic generating facilities belong to electro-technical professions or have any specialised knowledge in this field. So the aim of the BENNING SOLAR Portal redesign was to provide users with an easy-to-understand visualisation of the present operating conditions and values, in line with the expression: “A picture is worth a thousand words”.
In addition to comprehensive statistics, the generating system overview from the BENNING SOLAR Portal now offers a progress chart showing all the important actual daily values, providing a summary of the condition of the generating facility. A pie chart, for example, visualises the in-house consumption as an indicator for the proportional use of power that has been produced in-house.
A personal control centre for reducing breakdown risks
The BENNING SOLAR Portal not only functions as a simple display but acts as a personal control centre for the user, providing active information about operating conditions. This is an important functionality, since the operating life of a PV installation is approximately 20 years and trouble-free operation is the highest priority. The PV modules are exposed to the weather 365 days per year, so if, for example, there is an insulation fault, the inverters cannot feed in the power. In which case, no energy can be made available either for in-house use or for feeding into the grid.
pro-active reporting functions for on-going operational efficiency
Active communication with the installation operator
If there is no pro-active communication, the facility operator must investigate the condition and, where applicable take corrective actions. Without professional monitoring, the risk of profit loss is considerably higher and can quickly impair the economics of a photovoltaic installation.
The BENNING SOLAR Portal solves this problem by actively communicating with the operator of the facility, who is emailed regarding any unusual functional situations so that they can be corrected promptly, returning the photovoltaic installation to profitability – without downtime, if at all possible. This reporting functionality enables the owner of photovoltaic installations to identify trends at an early stage, so that he can, for instance, plan for module cleaning and achieve continuous high returns.
New benchmarks for operating scope and user-friendliness
The redesigned portal provides an increase in operational reliability and offers a perfect overview for all user scenarios – from a photovoltaic generating system via a free-standing photovoltaic installation in a single private family home, right up to an energy storage application.
contact: Peter Höptner
telephone: +49 28 71 / 93 259