Advantages of Monitoring Systems for Microgrids

January 7, 2022

With over 250 installation partners and more than 35 MW hours installed globally, Blue Planet Energy’s collective expertise has helped us identify the common challenges both installers and end users face with microgrid systems. We have also learned the important role of system monitoring in overcoming these hurdles as well as the promising benefits it can deliver. 

Quick Guide: Monitoring Benefits

Access to reliable data and historical insights

A lack of reliable data severely limits insight into a system’s operation and maintenance (O&M), making it difficult for installers to measure the status of the system and its components.  

Imagine a microgrid suddenly starts underperforming or stops working altogether. Without data to analyze, it can become a burden for installers to locate the origin of the issue, most often making them return to the site.

Integrated monitoring systems, however, provide the ability to access, manage and learn from both current and historical system data. For installers, this helps verify the exact time when issues began. It also allows them to address any unusual patterns in performance, which can even predict and prevent issues from arising in the first place. 

Alternatively, end users can analyze trends from past performance to optimize system parameters. For instance, the user may find they are using more grid energy than desired, regularly buying too much energy from the grid. Now, they can initiate appropriate changes, whether that means modifying their energy use or adding more battery storage. Businesses interested in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions can also optimize system performance to increase their carbon offset. Data captured by the monitoring system can then be used for ESG or sustainability reporting.

Residents monitor their entire energy solution via tablet

Ensured safety and security of system equipment

Ensuring the safety and security of system equipment can be a costly and inefficient expenditure if installers are tasked with being onsite to check system health. 

With remote monitoring, installers are freed from making unnecessary site visits and can instead inspect system performance or troubleshoot virtually, greatly reducing O&M costs. Certain monitoring platforms can also consolidate data from multiple microgrid components (solar PV, inverters, generators, storage) into one comprehensive dashboard - saving installers from bouncing from website to website to collect system data.   

Monitoring adds an additional layer of safety to microgrids. Advanced features, like email alerts, can be set up to notify both the installer and system owner of any abnormal conditions. If a rising operating temperature is detected, for example, the customer can act quickly to mitigate potential issues by making sure the equipment stays within safety parameters and warranty conditions.

Optimized financial savings

Undetected system inefficiencies can significantly impact the financial savings of a project, risking the customer’s return on investment. 

Did you know: when a renewable source of energy is more readily available, users can reliably generate more from that source and even store surplus energy. They can then take advantage of demand response or time-of-use rates by discharging that stored energy at a more expensive time.

In addition to saving money on system maintenance, monitoring gives end users autonomy to see the direct impact of their microgrid on their wallet. Visibility into real-time production and consumption activity enables users to more accurately estimate monthly utility expenses, ultimately making them consume less overall.  

For businesses, a system unable to properly power critical loads during grid outages can lose days, even weeks, of revenue. 

Monitoring via web browser on different types of devices