We’ve talked about consumption and energy monitoring before (How to monitor electricity consumption and generation | Regalgrid), but we’ve never addressed the topic of monitoring and the importance of the monitoring systems themselves to an Energy Community.
Why is it so important to have smart technology that not only helps make energy sharing, but also allows us two-in-one to monitor our own consumption?
Let’s look at it.
How a monitoring system works
Monitoring systems are technological tools integrated within the energy system that allow users to control the energy flow of their building.
These include technology tools for monitoring photovoltaic systems, which:
- are based on IoT technology;
- have a hardware component and a software component.
Thanks to some sensors placed near the plant, these tools collect information of various kinds, which:
- are transmitted over the network via the Cloud;
- are made visible to users in real time or at defined time intervals, through digital platforms and dedicated App: the information is therefore visible by the user on PC, tablet and smartphone.
Within the digital platforms and Apps are visible the aggregated data concerning
- the production and consumption of energy from the photovoltaic system
- the related statistics
- the actual operation of the plant.
Why it is important to monitor the photovoltaic system
Photovoltaic systems produce energy from renewable sources and can be the main source of energy in a residential or industrial building. For this reason it is important to associate them with monitoring systems that control their operation, to verify that there are no failures or malfunctions, but above all to allow to have a fast assistance from your installer, even remotely, and a precise knowledge of how and when you consume as an energy user.
The monitoring can, therefore, focus on different information regarding
- the performance of the photovoltaic system
- problems such as failures and malfunctions,
- the level of energy production and consumption of the plant.
Knowing this information it is possible to contribute to the maintenance or increase of the efficiency of the plant and implement a continuous maintenance of the system.
Monitoring systems in Energy Communities
Monitoring a photovoltaic plant is even more important if the plant is an energy source that is part of an Energy Community, whose main purpose is to share the energy produced locally within the community in an optimal way: to do this, monitoring systems are essential (Energy communities: if not now, then when? | Regalgrid).
In this situation, the most interesting information concerns:
- the energy production and consumption levels of community members
- the eventual surplus energy and the consequent need to share it
- the need to store or release energy within the storage systems connected to the photovoltaic system
- the operation of the photovoltaic system and other systems connected to it (e.g. storage systems, heat pumps).
Thanks to the information of the monitoring systems it is possible to understand how to manage and distribute in an optimal way the energy that circulates inside the energy community and therefore to reduce the energy wastes (Energy saving with photovoltaic system | Regalgrid): not wasting energy we obtain economic and environmental benefits.
Automated energy balancing
Through the use of monitoring systems, the user acquires experience in order to be able to carry out corrective actions of various types to reduce energy expenditure, including: energy efficiency interventions, recontractualization of energy supplies. Some technological tools are then able to perform corrective actions and balancing of the electrical system independently and in real time.
Among these tools is the SNOCU, produced by Regalgrid Europe, which in an automated manner:
- controls and manages the energy produced and consumed by the photovoltaic system. For example, it can implement energy flow optimization logics in order to maximize self-consumption (individual and/or collective).
- monitors and manages the loads of the different components of the system connected to it. For example, it can order the accumulation of energy in case of excess production, or the release of the same in case the storage system is full and a member of the community needs the energy.
These functions become even more relevant within Energy Communities: in them there are several users who need to use the self-produced energy in an optimal way from an energy efficiency point of view. This is possible by connecting a SNOCU to each electrical system to monitor and manage the loads of each. Finally, the SNOCU is easily controlled remotely via Regalgrid’s dedicated App, both for user and installer.
We have seen how monitoring systems are very important in photovoltaic systems in order to control their operation. Almost all existing monitoring systems on the market are passive systems, which require reading and interpretation by some expert in order to hypothesize subsequent actions, typically delegated to a professional. On the contrary, Regalgrid’s monitoring system is an active and autonomous system, which implies that the monitored information is made available to expert Artificial Intelligence systems that immediately process and use the data, implementing an active control of the energy assets under control. This means maximizing the use of self-produced renewable energy, which then translates into advantage and ecomonic incentive. In the optimization dynamics of both collective self-consumption systems and Energy Community, this feature makes Regalgrid SNOCUs much more than “simple” monitoring devices. Furthermore, monitoring systems such as the SNOCU give added value to the system, providing advantages for both the consumer and the installer. With the SNOCU, the consumer is able to control the production and consumption of energy in his or her own housing unit; in addition, the SNOCU can manage the loads of the various components of the system connected to it. In this way the consumer can notice malfunctions and the solution can be found more easily because the installer is also able to monitor the SNOCU remotely. This is an advantage for both parties: the consumer will receive the solution in a more timely manner and the installer can receive the necessary information directly from the SNOCU in a clearer way.