People may not initially think of data centers and load banks as being directly connected to the success of the renewable energy sector and the rate of renewable energy adoption. But, both of them have a surprisingly amount of influence on those things. Here’s a look at why:
A load bank is a device that applies an electrical load to an electrically-powered object. This process aims to emulate the electrical load handled by that object during typical operation. The people who carry out wind turbine installations and the subsequent commissioning depend on load banks to check that a wind turbine will function safely and as expected.
One common process is to use load banks and temporary generators to speed up the turbine commissioning process before the piece of equipment gets connected to the electrical grid.
In one instance, a wind developer utilized a 33-kilovolt, high-voltage power generation and load bank package that allowed testing multiple wind turbines at once, as well as all the high-voltage gear.
It was then possible to get the commissioning done faster than usual, enabling the developer to meet deadlines and avail of tax credit incentives. Load banks help strike a balance between getting a wind farm up and running quickly and doing it safely.
Companies that specialize in solar power also rely heavily on load banks to assess the performance of their setups. The associated processes often depend on data centers, too. In one case study, a company called E Light Electric needed to commission 96 inverters. The solar panels also had a tracking system that made them detect the sun’s position.
The team installing the array took measurements of the solar panels’ positions and made adjustments to them when necessary. When systems collect real-time positioning data like that, data centers are usually working in the background to collect and process the information.
Moreover, this method of using load banks to function as an imitation of the electrical grid permitted the enterprise’s staff to thoroughly test the equipment strategically and effectively.
They also used load banks to check the functionality of the solar panels’ sleep/wake system. It turned the equipment off once the sun went down but then reactivated it during daylight hours. The team did this after tracking the arrays for a full day.
The overall success of solar energy greatly depends on trustworthy operations. Cities and enterprises won’t want to use it without assurance that the technology will give consistent performance.
Employees must carefully read all accompanying load bank documentation to verify the steps required for safe operation. Beyond getting familiar with the instructions and safe operating procedures, the information collected by supplementary equipment can let operators confirm other necessities before a solar farm goes live. Then, the workers can test things confidently while avoiding surprises.
Although more people are getting on board with renewable energy, some still aren’t ready to make the change. The companies that sell the associated equipment to customers know how worthwhile it is to pinpoint their sales activities to target the individuals who are most likely to make a move to solar.
PowerScout is a California-based company that leverages data analytics to help customers see which smart home improvements — including renewable energy options — are most suitable for them. Having such information available to review could convince formerly hesitant people that now is the time to transition to solar panels.
Other ways to apply data to renewable energy projects include efforts to gather information about solar panel maintenance or provide information to insurance companies to urge them to facilitate production guarantees for solar power projects. Such visibility removes guesswork while showing that renewable energy is viable in today’s world.
Also, Google implements Machine Learning and predictive analytics for wind power. It uses algorithms that can forecast wind power output 36 hours ahead of time. The company reported that this method increased the value of its wind power by 20%. The outcomes could be even more impressive later, especially since the company continuously tweaks its algorithms.
When more enterprises hear about how Google’s using data to maximize its wind power investments, they may start investigating ways to do the same, eventually concluding that there’s no reason to delay the adoption of wind energy or another renewable.
A recent market analysis anticipates significant growth in utility grid analytics. The coverage from Frost & Sullivan revealed that only 2-4% of grid data gets analyzed, but that should change soon. The report clarified that the global grid analytics market was worth $1.15 billion in 2018, and it should grow to $2.31 billion in 2025. Such progress would equal a combined annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.4%.
While smart grid analysis encompasses more than renewable energy sources, the overall growth in the industry shows why data centers will stay prevalent in the future energy sector. Utility operators want to track data to save money and see where inefficiencies exist.
Some do that with renewable energy already. For example, data collected by sensors can predict wind turbine failures. In cases where utility companies offer sources of renewable energy to their customers, the data about possible problems with equipment can help energy company professionals be proactive about scheduling repairs and maintenance checks, thereby avoiding unnecessary expenses.
More companies are getting serious about becoming more sustainable. The associated milestones often involve renewable energy. Part of working towards a goal requires keeping tabs on segments of the businesses’ operations. Then, they can see whether things are moving in the right direction or if they need to take different approaches.
For example, Salesforce is working on something called the Sustainability Cloud. Designed for internal use by the company, the app crunches the data related to renewable energy usage, carbon emissions and other things related to the enterprise’s sustainability plans. It can pull from Salesforce’s information, as well as the stuff provided by any relevant third-party companies.
This kind of data compilation and analysis could not happen without the help of data centers. Also, once businesses see evidence of renewable energy investments paying off, they’ll be more likely to use renewable energy even more and inspire other companies to follow their lead.
Perhaps the primary reason why people don’t associate load banks and data centers with renewable energy adoption is because they often come into play during commissioning or behind the scenes. Even so, they’re both essential for helping renewable energy adoption happen.
By Kayla Matthews