This time, we shall discuss the importance of communication integrity for the proper functionality, monitoring and control of a solar photovoltaic (PV) facility. Obviously, monitoring and control systems are essential to ensure continuous energy output of any power generation facility, including a solar photovoltaic one.
How can a communication issue be diagnosed? The matter is mostly quite simple - in the event of data communication interruption, an initial inspection of the communication devices should be performed. Most of the time, the problem is due to the internet connection fault of a modem or data communication problem in the router, so rebooting these may resolve the problem. In more problematic cases, it is physical damage to communication cables or inappropriate network settings. In such cases it is possible and worthwhile to enlist the help of a communication technician, who is skilled in working with solar loggers. However, there are also more complex cases of systemic data corruption at source - whether at the site equipment itself and on relevant servers. The more complex cases result in corrupted data points which make manual monitoring hard and make automated alerts "go crazy".
Lack of knowledge about the state of the system in terms of data monitoring necessitates an almost daily physical inspection to make sure that the photovoltaic facility is operating properly. Worse - the physical examination must be done by a person (and preferably a skilled person) and therefore it is not worthwhile neither in terms of work time nor in terms of cost-benefit. At the same time, monitoring and control systems that simplify the daily inspection, depend entirely on the proper functioning of the data communication complex - a system that includes a logger for inverters, a modem with Internet access and sometimes a router that interconnects them. Yes on the physical side (communication cables) as well as on the digital side (calibration and settings) - the communication is vulnerable and requires maintenance and periodic inspection.
Most monitoring portals do provide a warning in the event of a communication delay or data uploading error at a solar PV system. For example, in the Sunny Portal monitoring portal by SMA, a log message will be recorded and en email message will be sent. In case of Fronius SolarWeb, a log message will be recorded and a message will be sent. However, in the more complex cases, the SysMap solution by Soltell Systems backs up these communication delay and error warning solutions, but also externally assess data integrity and quality - allowing to provide a warning also on cases when power data is flawed or corrupt or ignore corrupted data.
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