Enabling Seamless and Scalable Distributed Control and SCADA Solutions at Photovoltaic Power Stations

Emerson's Tom Snowdon


Emerson's Greg Schirm


Authors: Tom Snowden, Greg Schirm

Photovoltaic power stations (or solar parks) have traditionally used PLCs as their preferred control devices. Size, ruggedness, and cost are often cited as reasons for using PLCs.

With the release of the Ovation Compact Controller, Emerson is merging the scalability of PLCs with the power of the Ovation distributed control system on photovoltaic (PV) solar projects.

The compact controller is expressly designed for monitoring and control of PV assets across the spectrum of small and widely distributed installations up to multi-inverter facilities of hundreds of megawatts, for a seamless and comprehensive solar power monitoring and control solution. Emerson is actively applying this technology on multiple solar projects this year that range in size from less than 20MW up to 250MW.

Emerson's Ovation Compact Controller for Solar Photovoltaic applicationsOne example is a recent project in the eastern U.S. where the customer desired a solution that evolved and grew with their renewables portfolio. The Ovation compact controller was chosen over a PLC approach because it easily integrates with their enterprise of power generation assets, and the lifecycle of the Ovation controller and software is more efficient to manage over the 20+ year lifecycle of the generation asset.

In projects such as this, the Ovation compact controller is deployed as the controlling unit of a fully integrated Ovation SCADA system. The compact controller utilizes Ovation’s sophisticated control capability to deliver maximum power and energy production.

Programming and updating effort is minimized with easy-to-use configuration tools, and full control logic visibility. These capabilities help deliver highly optimized PV systems with improved accuracy and speed of curtailment, ramp rate control, tight voltage regulation, and primary frequency response.

Utilizing newly released Ovation networking options such as communications over a wide area network (WAN) along with the compact controller, it’s a simple exercise to manage multiple, widely dispersed assets from one location. And with Ovation Enterprise Data Solutions, operating and maintenance personnel can securely access system data remotely from mobile devices at any location with access to the organization’s network.

Finally, because the Ovation system is deployed on hardware located on the end-users’ premises, the asset manager has complete ownership and control of all data. There are no ongoing subscription charges or concern over the security of data located on cloud servers. Adding Emerson’s fully integrated ICS cyber security, power industry expertise and services enables a tightly integrated and reliable PV monitoring and control solution with an adaptable lifecycle management plan.

Visit the Ovation Compact Controller section of Emerson.com for more on the complete capabilities and specifications.

Posted Monday, October 29th, 2018 under Power.