Solar power: smart earthing solutions for earthing systems - AT3w

Solar energy: smart earthing solutions to optimise the operation of photovoltaic plants

The solar energy sector is a strategic industry that plays a crucial role in the energy transition. In order to protect the strong economic investment that a photovoltaic park requires, both in the project phase and in operation, Aplicaciones Tecnológicas S.A. has developed a portfolio of smart solutions that allow continuous monitoring of the state of an earthing system. The SMART EARTHING range is focused on achieving operational efficiency, reducing maintenance costs by anticipating critical repairs and extending the useful life of facilities to meet the return on investment on time.

Investment in renewable energies has experienced an exponential increase in the last decade, spurred on by ecological awareness of climate change and the need to decarbonise in order to achieve climate neutrality through the energy transition. Among different clean sources, photovoltaics is the one that is growing the most year after year, representing according to IRENA data 40% of new global capacity in 2020, with a total of 843,086 MW installed worldwide[1].

Investment required for a PV plant and the complexity and sensitivity of its components entails high maintenance costs, which tend to increase if risk situations are not detected in time. Early warning of any fluctuations in earthing systems helps to reduce these costs and extends the lifetime of facilities by providing real-time warning of component degradation or malfunctioning.

Solar power plants are generally large in size, where a critical fault can take long enough to be detected before a major failure occurs. At the same time, they are particularly sensitive to vandalism due to the high value of their components. Real-time monitoring of the status of both earthing systems and equipment connected to them results in considerable cost and time savings.

Aplicaciones Tecnológicas S.A. has developed a portfolio of technologically advanced solutions for monitoring earthing systems in solar parks, both those in the development phase and in already completed projects. Aplicaciones Tecnológicas S.A’s SMART EARTHING turn an earthing system in solar farms into a huge sensor which, by means of Advanced Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence (AI), allows remote alerting of a need for corrective interventions, developing early preventive actions to mitigate risk situations and even generating predictive models that anticipate future anomalies before they happen.

This 4.0 monitoring system is therefore an essential element to ensure the Return on Investment (ROI) of a solar park within a planned timeframe.

Photovoltaic power plants in the project phase: efficient design

When designing a solar park, the implementation of an optimal earthing system will affect the future operational and financial efficiency of a facility. For this reason, for ongoing projects, Aplicaciones Tecnológicas S.A. offers:

  • A preliminary geoelectrical study using our GEOELECTRIC EARTHING METER system to determine ground stratification and resistivity.
  • Professional service of EARTHING SYSTEM PROJECTS 4.0 based on international standards and designed with advanced GMAT/PAST software that allows us to determine the optimum solution objectively.
  • Use of anti-theft conductors and special electrodes based on particularities of a ground: corrosion-resistant electrodes for aggressive grounds, special electrodes and/or perimeter conductor rings for high resistance grounds, etc.
  • Long-lasting connections between conductors by means of Apliweld® Secure + exothermic welding. Aluminothermic welding achieves perfect joints that remain in excellent condition throughout the system’s lifetime, as well as reducing costs and improving occupational safety.
  • Advanced and continuous monitoring of the earthing system through SMART EARTHING MONITORING SYSTEM.

Solar parks in operation: diagnostic services and upgradation of earthing systems

In solar farms that are already in operation, the implementation of Aplicaciones Tecnológicas S.A.’s EARTHING SYSTEM PROJECTS 4.0 service consists of three phases:

  1. Initial meeting to identify problems and areas for improvement identified by a client.
  2. Analysis of the existing earthing system using our advanced software.
  3. Diagnosis and proposals for improvement to achieve objectives of reducing costs and increasing the lifetime of the park’s assets.

The SMART EARTHING MONITORING SYSTEM solution enables efficient management of earthing systems through centralised monitoring of smart sensors distributed throughout facilities as well as transmission and interpretation of data through IoT connectivity and Artificial Intelligence.

Continuous monitoring allows real-time detection of critical safety situations that require corrective maintenance but also provides data for predictive maintenance that optimises the useful life of assets connected to an earthing system. All of this results in significant cost reduction, thanks to the operational and logistical simplification of verification processes.

Predictive maintenance extends the lifetime of equipment connected to an earthing system, while real-time alerts allow for almost immediate inspections and early repairs. SMART EARTHING MONITORING SYSTEM continuously monitors the status of assets, detecting in real-time disconnections from earthing and alerting in the event of theft, breakdown and accidental breakage.

If you would like to receive more information about the advances in security and cost savings that our devices provide, you can contact us through this link.

You can also attend any of our free webinars on smart solutions for the photovoltaic sector via this link.


[1] Solar energy chart 2011-2021. International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

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