Though faced with a grim economic outlook post-COVID-19, it also provides an opportunity for countries around the world to look at energy recovery plan with intelligent technologies and green energy sources. Based on a recent report from UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2020, it argues that renewable energy is more cost-effective than ever – providing an opportunity to prioritize clean energy in COVID-19 economic recovery packages & bring the world closer to meeting the Paris Agreement goals.
Accelerate the growth of wind and solar PV
Based on research from IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) from 2020, green power technologies have rapidly become the most favored power generation technologies in markets around the world. In 2019, capital spending in wind and solar PV made up almost half of total power plant investment. Wind and solar PV accounted for 80% of the growth in global electricity supply in 2019 and now make up the majority of global power capacity additions, up from under 20% in 2010. The rapid growth of solar PV and wind has been paired with impressive cost reductions: close to 80% on average for solar PV, 40% for onshore wind and 30% for offshore wind power over the past ten years (IRENA, 2020). This will no doubt help to drive the energy recovery post-COVID-19 in favor of wind and solar PV power.
AI Drives Digital Transformation with Energy Industry
During COVID-19, all industries relies on digital technology including AI and Big Data to transform their business and finding new ways to do business and improve efficiency. When it comes to solar PV industry, it is no exception that AI and other key digital technologies plays a pivot role in transforming the industry. For example, O&M is a significant challenge for solar farms globally even before COVID-19, but during the pandemic, it is even more so difficult for solar farm owners to travel onsite to perform any regular checks and maintenance.
Back in 2014, Huawei took the lead in joint R&D with Huanghe Hydropower Development Co., Ltd and conducted a large number of tests for I-V curve which could assess the health of the PV plant by scanning all the PV modules through reverse power supply by Huawei Smart PV solution. This Smart I-V Curve Diagnosis technology can identify 14 common failures, including hidden PV module cracks, hot spots, backplane failures, and diode damage.
Following three upgrade versions, Huawei Smart I-V Curve Diagnosis has now applied for over 7 GW PV plants worldwide, and the number of detected PV modules exceeds 10 million. In addition to this widespread application, the AI-based Smart I-V Curve Diagnosis 4.0 further improves detection speeds, requiring just 15 minutes to completely scan an entire 100 MW PV plant. Bifacial, shingled, and hybrid mixed PV modules are all supported. While most industry vendors jumped on this trend almost overnight, the required technology is based on massive data accumulation. Without such big data and an advanced algorithm, detection accuracy cannot be ensured.
The Smart I-V Curve Diagnosis is the decisive factor contributing to the Smart PV industry intelligence, and only string inverters can provide such analysis. At the same time, the accuracy of Smart I-V Curve Diagnosis also provides an effective defense for Huawei technology and prevents missing or false reports. As Huawei Smart I-V Curve Diagnosis is based on the analysis of massive data reported from over 100 GW smart devices.
AI has achieved cross-industry collaboration and completed the last step of “massive scenarios + expert experience + cross-domain convergence”, greatly unleashing the potential of PV plants. Such intelligence has never been appreciated at this level before COVID-19.
Smart PV: Breathing Life into a Desert Landscape
The green energy industry is not only a testament of digital transformation, but also helps to recover industry and create new values for the local community. The following project from Baofeng Group is a great example of how smart PV could turning crisis into opportunity.
Historically, Binhe New District on the eastern banks of the Yellow River in Ningxia forms a harsh ecosystem with sweeping deserts.
In 2014, Baofeng Group began managing 107 square kilometers of desertified land by planting alfalfa to improve the soil. The company then began planting goji berries, a business that stretches back 1,000 years in Ningxia. Reviving goji farming has also revived an otherwise dead expanse of desert.
To make full use of the land resources bestowed by nature, Huawei Smart PV supported Baofeng Group in building a solar power system over the goji plantation, in effect draping a green blanket over the land.
Goji farming and smart PV technology have integrated in perfect harmony, creating a rich layer of “edible rubies” topped by a pristine blue sea of solar cells. It represents a new model of mixed land use involving two complementary industries: agriculture and PV – a model that’s leading the transformation of goji farming and new energy in the Ningxia region.
Under the Sun, a Desert Becomes an Oasis
Employee transporting Goji berries in the solar field
The planned 1 GWp solar power system will cover a total area of 20 square kilometers. The 640 MW PV power plants that have already been constructed are connected to the grid, creating the world’s largest PV power plant with smart tracking.
Huawei’s smart PV solution adopts world-leading, horizontal single-axis automatic tracking technology, allowing the solar panels to track the sun like sunflowers, which in turn greatly improves power generation compared to traditional PV power plants.
The solar power plant can effectively reduce land moisture evaporation by 30%~40%. The vegetation coverage is increased by 85%, which significantly improves the regional climate.
Baofeng PV Park has generated 3.875 billion kWh of electricity (*since connected to the grid until July 31 2020), reducing CO2 emissions by 1.841 billion kg.
Once the project is completed, it will save 557,600 tons of coal, reducing emissions of CO2 by 1.695 million tons, sulfur dioxide (SO2) by 51,000 tons, nitrogen oxide (NOx) by 26,000 tons, and dust by 462,000 tons each year. This will increase the annual environmental capacity by about 2.23 million tons for the future growth of the energy sector in Ningxia.
Although the sun still beats down on this land, the once barren, endless desert has slowly been transformed into an economic blue ocean, representing the future and hope – all thanks to time and advances in technology.
Huawei and Baofeng are leading the transformation of goji farming and new energy in Ningxia, accelerating the development of new technologies, industries, businesses, and models. This new agriculture + PV, multiple land use model isn’t just bringing new life to Ningxia, it’s forging a new ecosystem where humans and nature coexist harmoniously, adding an extra shade of green to the world.
Powering the World with Sunlight
Huawei looks forward to working with more partners globally and taking an active role in reducing reliance on fossil fuels and moving towards renewable energy to help put humanity on the road to resource-saving, environmentally friendly, and low-carbon sustainable development. We will continue to harness the power of technology to develop new practices in response to global climate change and protect the Earth, our home.