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Cloud-based Application Platform for Smart Monitoring & Management

of Photovoltaic Generation Systems

Jihyun Lee, Youngmee Shin, Ilwoo Lee

IoT Research Division, Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute
{jihyun, ymshin, ilwoo}

Abstract irregular operations and long exposed in the air,

which leads to a decrease in the efficiency of the
A solar photovoltaic generation system is system.
regarded as an eco-friendly energy resource. This paper deals with the construction of
Currently, a solar generation system is expanding to monitoring and fault checking system that can
private power generation companies due to a decline efficiently cope with the maintenance of photovoltaic
in panel prices and an unlimited access permission power generation systems by combining ICT
to an existing power system. The photovoltaic (PV) technology [2][3].
monitoring and fault diagnosis system can effectively
maintain the PV system in the environment where the 2. Related Works
1MW or less sized renewable facilities are According to the announcement of the Ministry of
increasing rapidly. In this paper, we propose an Industry and Trade in October 2016, unlimited
effective method to provide a monitoring and access to the existing power system by new
management system of photovoltaic generation renewable facilities under 1MW has become possible
systems based on cloud based application-sharing- [4]. As a result, the number of small-scale
platform (i.e. SaaS application platform). photovoltaic resources connected to the grid is
expected to significantly increase.
Keywords: solar, photovoltaic generation, In the case of individual power generation
monitoring, management, system, SaaS, application companies with a 20kW or less sized facility, there is
no obligation to appoint a safety manager. However,
1. Introduction if the efficiency of the photovoltaic module or the
Power sources such as solar power, wind power, inverter is lowered, the generation power is reduced
and solar heat are attracting attention as eco-friendly and the profit is affected. If PV owners know about it
energy sources. Generally, such renewable energy is in advance, it could be effective for the operator who
considered as a future alternative energy resource operates the solar power plant to manage the electric
because it does not pollute the environment. energy generation.
If the wind power industry was the center of the In the case of a solar photovoltaic system installed
world by 2009, the initiative has shifted to the solar in apartment house, which is of interest in this paper,
power industry since 2010. And the future prospect the failure rate of each major component was
of solar power are brighter because market analysed to be 18% for modules, 65% for inverters,
penetration and price competitiveness is rapidly 1% for connection boxes and 15% for monitoring [5].
increasing. In the case of solar PV, the entry In general, the system installed in the apartment
threshold of solar PV power generation is expected house is conducted in the form of daily checking per
to decline due to the falling panel prices and the week and regular checking per month.
unlimited system access, and the ability to utilize However, due to the characteristics of the PV
photovoltaic power will increase due to the management office, it is difficult for the facility
development of Energy Storage System (ESS) [1]. manager who is not majoring in electricity and other
In addition, solar power generation systems are fields to manage the system effectively, so that it is
recognized as an equipment that is easy to install and difficult to efficiently respond to failures of the
easy to manage. However, in reality, it is composed system with accurate understanding.
of a plurality of facilities and devices such as a light The real-time e-maintenance can greatly reduce
collecting plate, a connection box, an inverter, and a the technician's on-site visit and maintenance time
monitoring system, and the deterioration of the parts and costs. According to the fact-finding survey [6]
is relatively fast compared to a general facility due to conducted by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade
and Industry in 2012 on the field test of photovoltaic tenant customization capabilities required to
power generation, the frequency and causes of the configure a shared hosting environment.
failures of the photovoltaic power generation system In Figure 1, “Single Tenant SaaS on Dedicated
are various but mainly point to multiple failures Stack” represents the hosting environment in which
occurring in the operational phase [7]. one user (i.e., tenant) runs his/her own platform.
From this point of view, it is necessary to secure “Single Tenant SaaS on Shared Virtualized
long-term efficiency of the system and provide Hardware” stack is the environment that one tenant
technical support for stable operations. Therefore, shares only hardware and database system. As a
countermeasures are important in terms of platform stack goes from left to right side from
maintenance for efficient and long-term introduction Figure 1, a practical level of multi-tenancy reaches
of PV systems. higher, i.e. more shareable up to application services.
In the next section, we describe an effective
method of constructing a monitoring and fault-
checking system that can efficiently cope with the
maintenance of the photovoltaic system by
combining ICT technology.

3. Cloud-based PV Monitoring and

Management System
This paper focuses on technologies that can be
developed to reduce the cost of installing and
maintaining monitoring and maintenance systems,
which are essential for operating solar power plants
that are becoming increasingly widespread in small Figure 1. SaaS Platform Types
power generation companies.
In this paper, we propose a shared hosting A shared application platform that provides
platform to remotely monitor PV systems installed in monitoring and diagnostics through a cloud service-
residences and apartment complexes with a SaaS based, multitenant SaaS platform will enable
platform. independent monitoring applications, fault diagnosis
For reference, SaaS is a software development and applications, data repositories, and database
delivery model in which several application users management systems to meet different requirements
borrow and use services in a common shared hosting from PV energy generation companies.
environment. The SaaS ecosystem has stakeholders It has the advantage of efficient operations of a
called tenants who share and borrow the services system for monitoring and maintenance of integrated
provided in a shared hosting environment. However, photovoltaic systems at a reduced cost without
a tenant is defined as a small-scale company that building his/her own dedicated system.
borrows and uses an application in SaaS form rather In addition, the customized services specialized to
than as an individual one [8] [9]. Therefore, it means the facility characteristics can be provided to the PV
that only a single application object needs to be run energy generation companies with the methods of (1)
for a number of small-scale company to provide the analyzing particular output values, (2) representing
services. diagnosed information, and (3) detecting customized
In energy industry, PV systems need to be fault patterns in a customized service form for each
monitored in real-time to eliminate the causes of loss PV generation company.
of power production to maintain the performance of Therefore, we suggest an emerging system that
the solar systems. Basically, if real-time monitoring enables various solar power generation companies to
is impossible and accuracy is low, it is difficult to share the integrated monitoring and fault diagnosis
detect anomaly data over a long period of time. For system among them. Furthermore, it is possible to
better PV operation management, the monitoring and provide the monitoring and diagnostic technology
fault diagnosis system is also evolving by providing that can be evolved to the level of each individual
the application that can measure the power produced customized service.
in real time without affecting the solar power Figure 2 shows the structure of a solar monitoring
generation system and accordingly diagnose the and maintenance system based on the cloud
abnormality. application platform. The solar monitoring and
Figure 1 shows the different types of SaaS maintenance system based on the SaaS platform
platforms. The SaaS platform consists of a platform mainly consists of (1) a base SaaS application
stack with an infrastructure, database management platform, (2) a shared repository, and (3) an
systems, application platforms, applications, and application as a service layer.
Firstly, the SaaS application platform is managed Industry & Energy (MOTIE) of the Republic of
by a platform administrator, which provides a Korea (No. 20173010013610).
configurable platform to be tailored according to the
needs of different business entities, i.e. PV owners. A References
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resulting in storage space and cost effectiveness. [2] Matt Powell, “Lifecycle Management with Solar
SaaS,” Renewable Energy World, 2009.
Secondly, the shared repository stores the input
[3] Fusionsolar Cloud Management Center, “Smart PV
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Including New Technology of Solar Power Analysis,”
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Technical Report, Mitsubishi Research Institute, March
[7] “Guideline for PV Field Test Business,” Japan’s
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"Research and Implementation of a New SaaS Service
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Figure 2. SaaS-based PV Monitoring and
Preventive Maintenance System

4. Conclusion
This study proposed cloud-based operation and
management system for solar system. The
functionality such as power generation monitoring,
power consumption information and fault diagnosis
are possible. The PV generation and consumption
information are stored in the data repository and user
interfaces are provide for database management. The
suggested system make possible to monitor and
manage information of the PV generators through the
user interfaces. In addition, the content of the offsite
database in the distributed cloud data store can be
stored in the cloud-based SaaS platform.
Furthermore, the fault diagnosis engine analyzes
the data at the remote site and provides a service to
diagnose operational conditions. The cloud-based
solar cell operation management system can bring the
market competitiveness of renewable energy and
solar power generators and PV generation system
owners can have the advantage of being able to
effectively operate their facilities.

Acknowledgments. Our work was supported by the

Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and
Planning (KETEP) and the Ministry of Trade,