The challenge for operators of PV power plants is to achieve the highest possible energy yield with their plants. Besides selecting the right technology, the best way to increase yield is by using single-axis or dual-axis tracking systems, which can raise the yield of PV power plants by 30 to 40 percent, depending on the location. Precise tracking of the position of the sun is actually a basic requirement for solar power plants working with concentrated photovoltaics (CPV) or concentrated solar power (CSP).
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A tracking system can consist of one or more solar trackers. Smaller solar farms are best organized into groups that are connected via PROFINET. In this case, a controller takes over the higher-level functions such as the handling of wind alarms and time synchronization. In larger farms with more than 25 trackers, a combination of line and star connections is a feasible option. Various transmission media such as optical fiber can also be used. The PROFINET interface of the SIMATIC S7-1200 and the expansion modules with communication interfaces such as Modbus ensure integrated communication throughout the entire solar farm.
The free SIMATIC Automation Tool enables easy network management and runs independently of the engineering system. It can be used, for example, to automatically assign IP addresses from a list during commissioning. It can also read the states of all SIMATIC components and address the stations individually or in groups. One way in which the tool saves time and prevents errors is by selectively updating the controller firmware and application software via the shared PROFINET network.
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