INDUSTRIAL IoT FOR UTILITY-SCALE SOLAR PLANT SCADA & GRID INTEGRATION

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SOLAR PLANT SCADA IN INDIA
 
As India is making strong strides towards 2022 target of 100s+60w (100GW of Solar and 60GW of Wind), it is imperative to consider newer technologies that will help these plants achieve investor returns and grid stability over the next 25 years of operation. India deployed 14GW of utility-scale solar projects by June 2017, and the capacity addition increasing 50% annually so far. The ecosystem is evolving quickly to look at the operational phase of the plants, not just the build phase. 
 
Traditionally PLC based technology components are popular choice in Operational Technologies (OT). This platform includes PLC hardware in the field sending data onto a field PC (and any controls), HMI package to view collected data (where the screens are designed for each installation) and an additional Historian package to store data for longer term with graphs to view historical data. Up to this point, the architecture is given and proven over 20-30 years. And whenever the data is required to be shared with another system, use OPC DA package as a bridge. This is the popular architecture used at many power plants. 
 
REVOLUTION OF INDUSTRIAL IoT (2012) AND OT+IT INTEGRATION
 
There is a massive shift in OT landscape across the world in 2012 with the advent of Industrial IoT – specialized systems for Industrial applications with a distributed architecture to bring focus on operational data, intelligence and insight, and strong integration of OT and IT. 
 
This new architecture bridged capabilities and strengths of two disparate groups – A) operators and managers with domain expertise in the Plant and the Control Center and B) IT people who are trained with sophisticated tools for data analytics and enterprise software to bring insight and transparency using the operational data up to the C-level. With IIoT deployed in the plants, even the CFO can monitor the daily performance of the plant and track asset performance and investment objectives. Entire organization is in sync when they view the same operational data – presented in different views, reports, forecasting and analytics for different stakeholders.
 
While industry majors started investing several billions into IIoT and Analytics based technologies for data-oriented operations of Industrial in 2012, India’s first Industrial IoT went live in a solar plant with hybrid cloud-based monitoring – deployed by an Indian OEM – NeoSilica. 
 
NeoSilica went on to indigenously evolve their IIoT HW+Enterprise SW+Analytics based Plant SCADA & Central Monitoring Systems and deployed at over 1GW of solar plants across India. Few marquee projects are 10MW Canal Top plant in Vadodara (SSNNL) and 500MW plant in 1GW AP Solar Park in Kurnool.
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FLEXIBLE AND EXPANDING FRAMEWORK WITH GRID INTEGRATION
 
Unlike point solutions designed by legacy technologies, Industrial IoT systems are designed as distributed and centralized framework with the ability to expand additional EMS functions to manage energy storage, grid integration, power plant control, and microgrid control seamlessly.
 
As Indian electric grid is adjusting to variable generation from solar and wind, plant system should have accurate forecasting and scheduling and also the ability to interlock with Load Dispatch Center (SLDC) with plant control to match grid requirements.
 
MULTI-SITE MANAGEMENT ACROSS THE PORTFOLIO
 
As the plant sizes are increasing, solar plant ownership shifted from smaller individual groups (with a few plants of 5-10MW size) to large well-funded developers that are deploying large projects (100-200-500MW) and also consolidating the markets by acquisition of other players. As a result, these large developers require a Central Management System (CMS) for MultSite Management for live monitoring, portfolio performance, asset management and operational insight.
The MultiSite System should be an automatic extension as and when the Plant Monitoring is deployed in with the plant, and not as an afterthought. In plants where they pursued PLC and HMI based systems, sending data to a CMS is a large and complex next phase, to be built using OPC bridges. 
With deep integration of IT and OT, Industrial IoT systems have the potential to deploy Plant and Central systems in parallel – without needing additional resources or phases of development.
 
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MANDATORY CYBERSECURITY
 
With each plant spread across hundreds of acres of land, and data and systems that are designed for access to all stakeholders – plant operators, central O&M team, EPC, developer and investor –devices, data and applications are distributed across many networks. Considering the increasing threats of cybersecurity it is critical to consider layered and end-to-end security measures across the entire connected and distributed architecture. 
 
NeoSilica uses best practices in distributed IT systems with secure and hardened OS for the server and IIoT gateways and encrypts data transfer and user access.  
 
GOING FORWARD
 
As solar plants and portfolios expand further, the developers need to partner with multidiscipline teams with both OT+IT experience and OEMs with proven track record with Industrial IoT and MultiSite system. 
 
As we all agree, we are still at the dawn of solar and renewables in India and the world!
 
 
AUTHOR: SATYAM BHEEMARASETTI, CEO OF NEOSILICA, INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE IN SMART GRID, RENEWABLES, SMART CITY, TELECOM, ENTERPRISE SW, AI AND ANALYTICS.
 
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