By Bob Wood, chief operating officer and chief technology officer, Trimark Associates
Technology exists to improve our lives. For those in the energy industry, SCADA system technology helps to operate solar sites. An acronym for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, SCADA is a system that links together numerous hardware and software components of a site in order to easily monitor, control and analyze performance. Those components continue to expand, helping solar operators analyze all relevant solar project data in one place.
Perfection through analytics
Applying analytics to a solar facility provides valuable insight into the project’s performance. Presenting this data visually using graphs and reports on intuitive dashboards helps to maximize performance and outline information. For example, performance across an entire fleet can be reviewed and compared, with fleet information sorted by type and equipment.
While this type of analysis has traditionally been done on separate systems, advanced analytics are being increasingly integrated into SCADA platforms for direct data management. Cost-effectiveness aside, the ability to organize both historical and real-time data in a variety of ways — by type, model, performance, etc. — enables solar project operators to immediately adapt to recognizable trends, thereby optimizing their generation and maximizing revenue.
A lasting impact
Technology is ever-evolving and SCADA systems are no exception. Already a flexible system for collecting and managing generation data from sites, SCADA systems have broadened — rather, transformed — into an all-in-one business management system that supports just about every aspect of a plant. The innovative, comprehensive functionality of this technology cannot be understated, nor can the excitement it brings to the energy industry. Whatever the next breakthrough in SCADA may be, there is no doubt it will make the lives of site operators everywhere that much easier.