How many times do you hear about the future of energy, the next generation of power applications or the future utility business model? Like me, you’re probably getting a little tired of it. But something else is changing all around us and you might not be paying attention. It’s the evolution in the way we design, control, operate and maintain energy plants — from those tiny rooftop PV arrays to the largest, most remote, offshore wind farms: everything is going digital.
I’m not talking about using software tools to do your job: we’ve all been using email and computers for a very long time. No, this is digitalization on a whole different level, where hardware is getting a brain so that it can receive data, analyze it and make decisions without any human intervention.
As you’ll see as you flip through the pages of this issue, from solar design to grid control, to asset management, software is playing an increasingly larger role in the lives of energy stakeholders. Solar design software companies are working hard to give developers tools they need to get the job done quicker and easier. Companies are installing cloud-connected sensors to make entire power plants smarter. Solar plus storage technologies are combining under one control system to reduce annual peaks in microgrids. Operations and maintenance providers are using software to reduce the frequency with which they need to actually deploy people to a site.
It makes sense that solar PV, an advanced technology unto itself, is on the front line of the digital energy revolution. It’s an exciting space to watch.