Development of low cost equipment for monitoring photovoltaic systems

Ascensión López, researcher at the IMDEA Water Institute, has defended her doctoral thesis

Ascensión López Vargas, a researcher at the IMDEA Water Institute, has defended her thesis at the University of Jaén.

The thesis, framed in the Doctoral Program in Renewable Energies of the University of Jaén, is entitled "Development of low-cost equipment for monitoring of photovoltaic systems based on open-hardware and open source tools" and has been directed by Dr. Manuel Fuentes Conde and Dr. Marta Vivar García, researchers at the University of Jaén and researchers associated with the IMDEA Water Institute.

The doctoral thesis presented by Ascensión López Vargas was born with the objective of offering an adequate solution to the problem presented for the massive monitoring of autonomous photovoltaic systems installed in rural areas of developing countries. The work of this thesis focused on the development of three different versions of the monitoring system. All versions integrate free HW / SW tools to obtain low cost monitoring systems.

The first prototype uses an SD card for data storage. The second prototype constitutes a more advanced version of the data logger that allows the autonomous photovoltaic systems to be monitored in real time through a computer or a Smartphone thanks to the integration of wireless technology (specifically 3G), so that it can be remotely monitored . Versions of the first and second prototypes were installed in different locations to study the behavior of the data logger working under different climatic conditions. Finally, with the failures detected during the long experimental campaign under real operating conditions and the results of the laboratory reliability tests, the improvements of the last prototype of the data logger were designed integrating both remote communication and a redundant storage system for avoid the loss of data if communication cannot be established. This latest version has been tested outdoors for 8 months with positive results. As for the cost of the prototype, the first version of the prototype is below € 100. The prototype that integrates 3G connectivity has a cost below € 150. These are experimental prototypes in the laboratory, greater production of dataloggers would reduce the final cost.

In summary, this work has demonstrated the high precision and robustness of a new data logger designed specifically for the monitoring of autonomous photovoltaic systems that also has a reduced cost in their first prototypes. This system is specially designed for installation in rural areas of developing countries without access to the electricity network or traditional telecommunication networks, demonstrating that the system meets international standards and is capable of working properly even under adverse weather conditions, withstanding extreme temperatures.


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