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How Solar PV Solutions And The Internet Of Things Reinforce Each Other

Technology Insights
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The Internet of Things represents the biggest expansion of network connectivity in history. By connecting home appliances, embedded sensors and many other systems not conventionally regarded as "computers" to IP networks, the IoT could unlock many new interactions between devices and applications.

For example, Amazon announced in late 2018 a microwave that could be connected to an Alexa-powered speaker for voice controls, and which also featured an integrated dash button for easy reordering of popcorn. This appliance is pretty simple as IoT inventions go, but it illustrates the potential of connecting devices other than traditional PCs, servers, phones and tablets, in the delivery of innovative services.

Solar power solutions have an important role to play in the growth of the IoT. Providers of integrated solar platforms, like Trina Solar with TrinaPro, are particularly well-positioned to ensure that the IoT infrastructure of tomorrow can harness solar energy for enhanced reliable and resiliency.
 
Why solar and the IoT are a perfect match

IoT assets are not like most networked devices:

  • They're more likely to have streamlined, space-optimized designs that exclude displays and other conventional components, and may even share power sources with the sensors connected to them. This is the case with some IoT weather stations.
  • They may be built in unusual (compared to the familiar form factors of PCs and similar devices) shapes and with rugged materials. so that they can function in specific outdoor locations. However, these design decisions can complicate how they receive power. 

With these requirements and restrictions in mind, solar power is often a good fit for IoT implementations. High-quality solar PV panels are rugged enough to withstand significant wind and snow loads, in addition to having certified waterproofing. The ongoing development of thin PV film may also boost solar's role in IoT, since lightweight panels could be installed in many possible locations.

Solar and IoT have a symbiotic relationship. Installing PV panels and batteries for solar energy storage can make certain types of IoT infrastructure more viable, while the wide-reaching connectivity of the IoT has benefits for solar power management. Indeed, the later has been proposed as a breakthrough IoT application – the use of smart sensors, software and algorithms could bring big changes to the monitoring of solar PV panels voltage, temperature, current and irradiance.

In other words, by connecting their solar infrastructures to the cloud, solar customers will be able to keep close tabs on performance degradations before they get out of hand. In a pre-IoT world, it's often necessary to send out technicians to address issues with causes that are difficult to pinpoint. With IoT solutions in place, issues within solar PV systems can be spotted in real-time and likely resolved with higher success rates.
 
Solar for utility-scale IoT projects

Moreover, integrated solar solutions, such as TrinaPro, can extend the possibilities for energy and utility projects in the IoT. Companies in these spaces have already tapped into the IoT's potential by monitoring critical infrastructure like pressure gauges, supporting preventative maintenance strategies and gathering data for business intelligence initiatives, but solar power opens new horizons.

With an all-in-one solar platform for utility projects, they gain convenient access to panels, inverters, batteries and trackers from a single provider. Modern trackers allow for higher-gain solar installations in a wider range of terrain than was available even a decade ago, when obstacles like pipelines and wetlands limited the feasibility of tracker implementation. The single-axis tracker in TrinaPro adjusts to the sun's east-west movement, providing significant energy gains that can channeled into IoT devices and applications.

Contributed by Trinasolar

TrinaPro is ideal for today's utility-scale projects and will continue to be a powerful platform as energy providers integrate more aspects of the IoT into their operations. Trina Solar combines high-quality components with attentive service to deliver the best possible experience for customers. Its scalability, reliability and overall are well-suited to unlocking the main advantages of the IoT, namely improved insight into operations and tighter integration between IT systems.

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