Italy is known for its plans to develop photovoltaic power as one of their main sources of energy. Having such a wide experience in solar power harvesting, several issues arise regarding the solar panels’ maintenance. Every PV plant has a sensor verifying the quantity of light arriving at its location at any given moment during the day.
That information is put into an equation where data coming from the Meteosat satellite is also put, and the correct amount of electricity that the power plant should produce is calculated. If there is an error (of course, with a certain jitter), the system will signal the maintenance company.
The Italian company Flyby has come up with this method, by using Europe’s Meteosat weather satellites to map the amount of sunlight falling on those power plants.
This information assists to determine the best sites for new PV plants, as well as how much electricity they will produce yearly. This helps to decide precisely how large the plants have to be for a given use, optimising investment and improving solar power economy.
The system uses Meteosat data to constantly monitor if the solar cells are working properly all the time, by comparing in real-time the actual production of electricity to what can be expected from the amount of available sunshine.
The system takes data from the satellites and measurements from a ground sensor; any difference indicates the solar cells are not working optimally, and the system immediately sends an alarm. Technicians can then be called in to remedy possible faults.
The satellite solar irradiation data come from two Meteosat Second Generation satellites: Meteosat-8 and Meteosat-9. The services providing these data have been jointly developed by ESA and Eumetsat, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites.
Converging satellites and solar panels seems like a good idea when you think that satellites themselves could be solar receptors after all. Slowly, technologies start helping each other to get the maximum efficiency out of each one.