Industry 4.0, also known as the smart technology revolution, has swept across all industries worldwide. Market research firm EnergyTrend anticipates that global PV demand will reach 60.3 GW and the industry will undertake massive capacity expansion in 2016. Though the solar energy sector is one of the most progressive and bullish industries, it also faces challenges brought about by Industry 4.0. To stay ahead of the curve, BIG SUN Group, a Taiwan-based PV manufacturer, has launched its exclusive iPV Tracker and continues to upgrade the capability of iPVita, a smart energy monitoring and control platform.
“We must be more forward-looking than our competitors and introduce innovative products that meet both the immediate and future needs of the market,” said BIG SUN Chairman Summer Luo. “This is why we developed iPV Tracker and iPVita.” BIG SUN’s exclusive iPV Tracker, a dual-axis solar tracker controlled by steel-wire ropes, has won accolades worldwide since its market launch in 2012 and has obtained patents in over 40 countries. As a smart technology product, iPV Tracker can be remotely controlled and automated via software interface. Its solar panels will always face the sun through different times of the day and different seasons.
Luo also explained that as PV power plants enter the smart technology era, plant managers would be able to obtain real-time information on PV systems and provide any necessary maintenance services. Moreover, PV power plants are now sources of valuable big data for the solar industry. Information from the plants could be further analyzed and become tools to help optimize the generation capability of PV systems in the future. At the user end, Industry 4.0 solutions can also better modulate power generation and power consumption, thus allowing a more effective use of renewable energy.
To effectively manage iPV Tracker, the iPVita cloud-based monitoring and control system receives power-generation data from PV devices and in turn uses this information to optimize plant operations. The addition of a mobile app further makes iPVita an essential tool for the building and maintenance of a smart PV power plant in the age of the Internet of Things. With accurate solar tracking ability and support from iPVita, iPV Tracker is proven to have an operational availability rate of 99.9%.
Luo also noted that the possibilities of cross-industry applications for solar energy are limitless. A well-designed PV power plant, for example, can become a tourist attraction. Guided tours of the plant area for both recreational and educational purposes can bring in additional revenue. Another example is PV systems for parking lots, which can be further transformed into charging stations for electric vehicles. This kind of project would be another step towards the environmental goal of zero-emission traffic.
The goal behind the concept of “smart industry” is to provide customers with better and more complete services. Luo said his company is not pushing cross-industry uses of their products without thinking. Rather, they carefully consider the factors behind a successful incorporation of solar energy within an industry – the availability of physical space, business practicality, safety and the efficiency improvements that come from the adoption of PV systems.
Moreover, BIG SUN calculates operation and maintenance requirements into every project, which is modeled according to specific needs of the client. The results of their efforts are highly specialized and intelligent PV power plants. Still, the foundation of all BIG SUN projects is the iPV Tracker, a system with a proven record of stability and adaptability regardless of strong winds, snow, dust or other harsh conditions. Among the competitors in the renewable energies sector today, BIG SUN is more than ready to embrace the challenges of Industry 4.0.