The Smartest way forward

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Recognition of the benefits offered by synergies between solar PV, the Internet of things (IoT), and digitization is growing day by day. Can you begin by outlining the main goals and aims of Huawei’s FusionSolar Smart PV Business, and how it works with renewable energy?

The physical and the digital realms are undergoing profound integration. Innovation in digital technologies, represented by 5G, IoT, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence (AI), will continue to help all industries to prosper.

As an essential trend and inevitable path for the global energy industry, digitization paves the way for technological development and reshapes the entire PV industry. In 2018, Huawei’s vision is to bring digitization to every person, family, and organization and build a fully-connected intelligent world. As for the energy industry, Huawei is committed to bringing digitization to every PV plant, and every new energy enterprise, while helping partners to lead the Smart Era.

What does the phrase ‘Smart PV’ mean to you, and to Huawei?

‘Smart PV’ is a convergence and innovation of PV power generation and digital information technologies. The Huawei Smart PV Plant solution is the innovation and optimization of the whole process, from plant construction to operation & mainte

nance (O&M), by integrating digital information, IoT, and PV technologies. This lowers the initial investment and O&M cost, increases the energy yield, and improves the rate of return on investment. It can be adapted to various scenarios, including large ground plants, hillside plants, and solar-integrated farming and aquaculture.

‘Smart’ indicates less human intervention in favor of automated, unattended operation. That is, faults can be automatically detected, diagnosed, and rectified so as to improve the energy yield, reduce maintenance costs, and increase system incomes. Automation, informatization, and big data analytics are the three essential phases in the development. Automation means that there should be less manual work at the PV plant. The system is made of sturdy parts that don’t require maintenance. Experts are seldom required for on-site troubleshooting, and personnel are no longer required on site to rectify faults. Informatization refers to high-precision smart PV string monitoring. It ensures the high-speed, reliable, secure, and low-cost transmission of information, and implements reliable storage and monitoring over background data. Big data analysis makes possible the proactive identification of problems before they occur. The system draws on big data to make O&M suggestions. The remote mobile O&M facilitates remote expert guidance and reuse of expert resources. The expert O&M system implements preventive maintenance, and the automatic report system provides automatic data reports of different levels.

Digitization of solar plants has become extremely widespread across most major markets and is offered by a range of companies. How do you ensure that Huawei continues to innovate and stay ahead of the competition?

In order to stay one step ahead of the competition in terms of technology, Huawei has consistently invested heavily in R&D. In 2017, 14.9% of Huawei’s global sales revenue was reinvested into R&D. The path leading us to an intelligent world is the path of innovation. Thanks to its deep involvement in global competition and customer-centered innovation policy over the last 30 years, Huawei has developed chips, mathematical algorithms, and architecture design processes. Based on these technologies, it now possesses excellent capabilities in telecommunication, computing, and storage. Huawei can continuously enhance its competitive edge from one product and solution to the next, as each inherits the successful technologies of its predecessors. This momentum can be used to drive the digital transformation of all industries. We will continue our investment in R&D, promote digital innovation in AI, 5G, cloud computing, and IoT to provide competitive solutions that integrate new energy sources for better user experience.

Can you describe the LTE wireless network currently used by Huawei for solar plant monitoring and data analysis? How can system owners be confident that the network is reliable, secure, and user-friendly?

The wireless 4G eLTE technology is widely and securely applied in major fields such as energy, transportation, finance, and government. It ensures security by means of 128-bit keys for bidirectional encryption and unscheduled updates, multiple application encryption protocols to ensure secure transmission for end-to-end businesses, secure environment build between wireless base stations and security gateways, and access control, logs, and alarms.

In the PV industry, the terrain often complicates the construction of new plants, as PV plants may be built on mountains, rooftops, or the surface of a lake. PV plants may be built in areas where the geology poses unique challenges. Due to its convenience, eLTE technology is witnessing broader application in PV plant construction and O&M. The technology is safe, reliable, and simple to deploy. In terms of plant construction and O&M, no optical fibers or trenching for optical cables are required, and faults can be easily located and rectified. With regard to management, the synergy of mobile Internet, smart PV terminals, drones, and remote experts improves the O&M efficiency.

Digitizing the energy system is certainly a path that much of the world is heading down; what are Huawei’s ambitions on this front? Do you hope to eventually be instrumental in all residential, commercial, and industrial solar markets globally?

As I mentioned earlier, Huawei’s vision is to bring digitization to every person, family, and organization and build a fullyconnected intelligent world. Digitization is also a major trend within the energy industry. Digitization has become the core competitiveness of energy enterprises. The advancement of digital technology will accelerate the drop of the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for PV plants and ultimately achieve grid parity. Intelligent algorithms, intelligent diagnosis, and intelligent convergence not only improve the energy yield by 0.5-2.0%, but also provide fault warning and self-diagnosis, O&M team performance evaluation, asset and solution implementation evaluation, and fishery-agriculture system analysis and control for maximizing the benefits of the PV plant throughout its life cycle for customers. Today, one-click scanning of the Huawei Smart I-V Curve Diagnosis 2.0 technology enables the scanning of all strings in a 100 MW PV plant in just 25 minutes. Compared with traditional inspection, customers save CNY 10 million ($1.56 million) in the 25 year life cycle of the PV plant.

Remote monitoring, predictive analytics, and big data – these terms are no longer new to the solar industry. So how does Huawei hope to push the boundaries in the coming years? What types of innovations – both digital and in terms of hardware – can we expect to see?

Based on Huawei-developed chips, digital power generation of Huawei smart PV system implements high-precision digitization for the devices in the system so that they can be sensed, connected, and controlled. This lays the data foundation for later big data mining and analytics, fault prediction, and proactive and preventive maintenance.