With the US solar energy industry suddenly experiencing a case of unprecedented growth, there is a growing need for firms in this field to upgrade their IT networks and utilize the proactive resources available. The growth experienced is due to various reasons, but in part to certain key variables including a rising consumer interest in clean energy, newly available tax incentives, and reducing commodity prices.
Currently, the US is one of the largest global markets for solar photovoltaic electricity and the demand for this service shows no signs of abating. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, statistics have shown that over 1,500 PV installations were available online during the first six months of the year. In comparison to this, approximately 644 new systems installations were performed in the six month period during 2011.
While this is a highly beneficial statistic, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has predicted further growth for the industry making this only a blip in the ocean. The president of the SEIA and Rhone Research CEO stated that America’s solar energy industry is on course for another record-breaking year with over 9,370 megawatts (mw) of solar electric capacity being used across the US. This is the same capacity used to power over 1.5 million US residences, including the White House.
Managing Solar Growth Using Proactive Monitoring Tools
While the solar energy industry reaches new heights, there are some practices that are experiencing a new challenge known as sprawl. More installations bring with it increased endpoints requiring monitoring and guarantees. For example, California-based PV firms are now as likely to have installations in states like New Jersey as it is to operate physical sites in a California-based city. Of course, solar energy firms could rely on the previous manual procedures to monitor operations; however, this approach is not longer viable because of the industry’s spread and scale.
In order to address this challenge, the solar energy companies are embracing the “internet of things” (also known as the “internet of everything”. The internet of things can be broadly defined as a development of internet-connected endpoints formed with machine-to-machine interaction. The internet of things is beneficial as it has the potential to change energy companies. For example, solar energy companies are able to install sensor panels for performance monitoring; thereby, providing a real-time insight for site management teams.
The president of Cisco Canada, Nitin Kawale, wrote in a blog post that the internet of everything notes that 99% of all things on the globe are not connected. If we were to consider this factor and link all things, what are the possibilities? Kawale stated that by doing this the world would be dramatically changed for the better – in fact, it already has by connecting only 1% of things in the past two decades.
Kawale pointed out that one of the internet of thing’s greatest contributions to the solar energy firms is big data and predictive analytics. One of the players in this market is LED Lighting Canada. They have developed sensors that are installed on panels are able to collect vast amounts of data, which are then used by the firm to gain an oversight into the installations. Furthermore, data analysis tools can be used to accurately predict future outcomes using past and present data available.
While the developing trends in this industry may be boons for the C-level executives at solar energy power systems companies; the internet of things with predictive analytics may not be used by IT teams that suddenly given more management tasks. The increase of sensors distributed will translate into more endpoints to monitor and the presence of predictive analytics increases the amount of pressure placed on IT systems to perform.
In order to deal effectively with the dual threats and network oversight, professionals should incorporate proactive monitoring equipment using out-of-band access. When this solution is used, IT professionals will be able to work more easily and monitor endpoints more effectively. They can ensure that all network endpoints are functioning correctly and predictive data analysis can be put into place. The internet of things with data analysis can increase growth opportunities in the field, but if no initiative is expected there is little chance of positive expansion.