Managing solar PV projects is a complex task, as asset managers need to perform a variety of activities to achieve maximum solar production and ROI. There are a number of digital solutions available to help manage solar PV production. But all too often, they only allow you to address certain aspects, and in the end, a combination of solutions is required to complete all the activities.
So how can you be sure that the solution you are about to choose really meets all your needs? Here are 12 critical aspects to consider before choosing energy management software:
Is the software hardware agnostic?
It is important to choose a system that can collect and centralise all data from equipment from any manufacturer, such as inverters, sensors, data loggers & meters.
|2||Openness to other energy technologies|
Is the software open to other energy technologies?
Projects evolve, and the software should allow you to integrate other technologies such as cogeneration, wind, electric vehicles, biomass, etc.
|3||Openness to external systems|
Can the software be integrated into third-party applications?
Choose an open software that allows the integration of data from external systems such as ERP, CRM, CMMS, user databases, and web portals.
|4||Velocity in data processing|
How fast can the software process the data?
Choose software that can quickly turn data into useful information. BIG DATA technology is a must. It is based on the 3V concept (Velocity, Volume and Variety): as a user, you need data quickly; you also need a variety of data to perform proper analysis; you need to handle large volumes of data (e.g. data needs to be stored for long periods of time to detect anomalies and support the expert’s work).
|5||Financial KPI calculation|
Can I calculate the financial gains even in the case of self-consumption?
In order to calculate profits and turnover – for example, for energy sold and fed into the grid – it is important to choose software that can integrate different prices per period and key contract parameters, and automatically standardise the values. Turnover can then be used as a reliable basis for benchmarking between different sites and countries.
|6||Flexibility & personalisation|
Can I customise dashboards and KPIs?
Dashboards and KPIs are project specific and can vary. Choosing software that allows you to easily and autonomously adapt and customise KPIs will make your work more efficient and agile.
Can I visualise performance on public screens?
Powerful dashboards with real-time information available directly on public screens allow you to engage residents and customers and easily communicate the results achieved.
Can I create & schedule reports to be sent at a specific date to specific people?
By choosing software that uses automated alerts, you can identify anomalies and respond immediately. In addition, the use of artificial intelligence allows you to compare actual production with AI models to identify performance issues.
|9||Identification of underperforming assets|
How can I detect underperforming assets?
Choosing a software that uses automatic alerts will enable you to identify anomalies and react immediately. In addition, using Artificial Intelligence allows you to compare actual production with AI models to identify performance issues.
|10||Security & Privacy|
Data is sensitive and I need them to be safe
Your provider must give you a secure solution for your company’s data, and the on-premises solution must have a robust way of operating and protecting local databases. Check that the provider meets cybersecurity standards, such as ISO 27001, as well as data protection standards (GDPR).
How easy is it to go from macro to micro view?
The software must allow you to have a global view of the PV installations, but also to identify the ones that are having problems. You should be able to easily zoom in on this plant to the desired level of detail to identify the root cause (e.g. an inverter is failing, there is a communication problem, soiling, …).
Can I configure the assets myself?
Check that the software provides solutions to easily replicate the configuration (assets, KPIs, alerts, dashboards, etc.). Also make sure that energy data collection can be done in the same way with all existing hardware. These two aspects will have a big impact.
Are you currently choosing software to manage your solar installations and projects? Use this handy checklist to compare different solutions.