5 technological trends CTOs in the solar industry must know about

Technological development is moving at a high speed in the renewable industry. 

We have looked at 5 technological trends you who are a CTO in the solar business must keep in mind and be willing to learn more about if you want to keep up to speed with the future.

1. AI and machine learning processes
2. Blockchain
3. Green hydrogen energy
4. Storage integration
5. Efficient boosting

1. AI and machine learning processes at the core of the solar industry

AI is increasingly being embedded at the core of multiple different business fields. 

The solar industry is no exception. As a significant driver of the technological transformation happening, AI helps collect vast amounts of data from an equally enormous amount of data points in solar plants and their connected systems. 

Deploying AI to collect and analyze data from trackers, inverters and panels, weather systems, demand forecasting, storage instead of curtailment, and so on, AI enables high-level decision-support for humans,  

Also, AI enables predictive maintenance, making it possible to run O&M services on an agile schedule, making operations and maintenance more cost-efficient, decreasing losses by predicting when to replace a tracker, or when to clean a panel.

There is no way around it. AI is the future of the renewable energy industry.

2. Blockchain

Blockchain has been piloted for use in the energy sector, and these days the technology is maturing and increasingly being put to use.  

Blockchain is an encrypted way of transferring information, and will be an important part of future transactions within the energy sector. It can be used for anything from tracking the source of energy and ensuring that the end-user gets the clean energy they have asked for, to securing payments. 

So far, different blockchain projects have been deployed across the industry, with a main focus on transactive energy and guarantees of origin. 

Examples of use: 

  • Carbon tracking 
  • Energy trading
  • Decarbonisation
  • Tokenisation
  • Staking


3. Green hydrogen energy

Integration of green hydrogen production into the solar energy industry will eventually become the standard.

Hydrogen produces close to zero greenhouse gasses when burned, and can be created through electrolysis, driven by electricity. When produced from renewable energy sources, this becomes a carbon-free fuel.

Green hydrogen is considered to be an essential component of the energy transition, as it provides a movable, high-energy fuel source that can provide fuel for different processes that can not be electrified as they are too energy-intensive, like certain industrial processes and airplanes. 

The technology is maturing, and keeping an eye on the development in this sector will give you a heads-up on what is going on.  

4. Storage integration

Integration of battery storage into PV plants is necessary to provide the energy needed for the energy transition.

As more and more energy from solar power is introduced to the grid globally, there is an increased need for storage of energy. Energy storage helps avoid curtailment and makes it possible to release stored energy to the grid at times when the sky is clouded, or during the night. 

Also, since electricity produced by PV plants lack inertia, Fast Frequency Regulation, which battery storage solutions can provide within milliseconds, is becoming increasingly important to keep the voltage of the grid stable. 

Read what Steinar Sælid has to say about this in the blog “Renewable energy as a power system changer”. 

5. Efficiency boosting

Knowing how to maximize the output of a solar plant is at the heart of the business. 

As little as 1% increase in output makes a world of difference in ROI. Tracking production all the way from PV panel efficiency, trackers, inverters and weather to production/demand balance and prediction of production, including O&M operation and its influence on production is becoming ever more important in order to run a solar plant in a cost-efficient manner.

To get this overview, requires software that can keep track of all the data points in a plant, analyzing it and giving good decision-support. 

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