SolarNxt®: A Centralized Monitoring Solution for Developers of Distributed Solar Rooftop Plants

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Background

  • Tremendous growth is projected in small solar rooftop plant deployments in India. 
  • A target of 40 GW has been set for the rooftop solar segment, and a subsidy program has been created to incentivize this. 
  • On the ground, the program is driven by individual states by a tendering process. 
  • Tenders are awarded and distributed across a few developers, each of whom is allotted a chunk. Post the commissioning, the developers are also responsible for the operations & maintenance (O&M) of these solar plants. 

Problem statement

In the O&M phase, developers of large fleets of small rooftops face several challenges which are unique and not seen in utility scale projects.

  • Highly distributed: Even a 5 MW tender for 10 kW typical plant size would mean 500 solar plants on 500 roofs!
  • Spread across large geographies: To ensure equitable distribution of the subsidy, the state-level tenders usually target certain segments such as schools or hospitals or govt buildings spread over all districts of the state.
  • O&M Challenge: The first two challenges and the wafer-thin project margins mean that it is not viable to deploy site-level O&M personnel.
  • Multiple Inverter Brands: Low project margins means that developers often use a mix of higher cost, premium inverter brands and lower cost alternatives.
  • Monitoring of Performance by State Nodal Agencies: Every nodal agency has its own prescribed report format.

Megamic’s Solution

Megamic’s SolarNxt® platform has been carefully designed, from the grounds up, to tackle the above challenges faced by distributed solar asset owners. It has been successfully deployed and is being used to centrally monitor diverse assets – Solar Rooftops, Solar Water Pumps, Solar Street Lights.

Reliable, yet low-cost hardware: The starting point of the monitoring solution is Megamic’s proprietary remote monitoring unit (RMU). The RMU is highly cost-optimized with the right feature set.

  • 2G based hardware: Lower running cost compared to 4G solution.
  • Supports multiple inverter brands.
  • No loss of data: Store data locally, during network outages.
  • Robust firmware: Ensures operation even in areas with poor network coverage.
  • Data download: Using USB pen drive, in areas where network is absent.
  • Over the Air update: RMU firmware upgrade over the air.

SolarNxt ® Central Monitoring Platform: Aggregates data from all sites in the project in a single place.

  • Single screen visualization for plants spread across city/state/country, irrespective of inverter brand.
  • Intelligent filtering options to group and filter sites
    • Location, generation, alarms etc.
  • Draws attention of O&M team to under-performing plants.
  • Intelligent classification of alerts and alarms for quick action
    • Allows O&M actions to be prioritized
  • Define new alerts in the portal, based on data trends over time
  • Evolving analytics Data collected over time is used to design new algorithms to identify issues

Partial List of Successful Deployments

  1. Monitoring of 500 grid-tied solar plants (10 kW) across West Bengal. Nodal Agency: WBREDA
  1. Monitoring of a large fleet of grid-tied solar plants (small commercial) across India
  1. Monitoring of ~ 1000 solar street lights across Nagaland. Nodal Agency: DNRE

Megamic Provides Monitoring, Analytics, Diagnostics and Asset Management Capabilities to O&M Teams and asset owners to Improve their ROI on large scale distributed solar PV Plants through its innovative portfolio of field proven products and solutions ranging from Dataloggers, String Monitoring Units, Smart SCADA Panels, Plant Power Controllers, Zero Export Controllers and SolarNxt® – Cloud based solution.

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