If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Improve It

Everybody talks about energy conservation & optimization, bringing in new sources of energy, efficient technology, etc. Along with all these, what is also necessary is measuring & monitoring the current sources & technology to bore better results without any significant efforts. Whether we pass or fail in an exam is known by measuring & comparing our score with certain reference value. How much to improve and where to improve is known by analyzing our previous results and detailed analysis of our strengths and weaknesses.

Like our exam scores, the performance of any energy system also needs to be monitored and analyzed to improve the energy yield as well as better energy conservation. At Ushva, we believe that our energy systems should be monitored and analyzed in real-time to achieve maximum energy output along with best possible operational convenience.

Akhilesh & Hetvi from our team have been working relentlessly to create a full-fledged robust communications stream for our energy systems so as to loose not even a single data point. They believe that data holds the highest value in the betterment of our systems. Every data point lost is equivalent to loosing energy for them.

 

We monitor and analyze all aspects of energy at micro levels in real-time which helps us render the best possible results from our systems. Our systems have been designed to learn and improvise based on the prior performance data points and the historical data sets also help us in staying prepared for what’s about to come next. Not only us, but also our systems learn from the prior experiences and inefficiencies.

USHVA – Journey for an Energy Revolution

Ushva is a bunch of like-minded people who wish to bring about a paradigm shift in the energy scenario across the globe. Energy (Electricity) has always been considered as a passive component of our lives and we have hardly seen anyone trying to optimize passive things in life. In today’s world, everyone is making a run for getting the active components of their life right such as getting a luxurious house, cars, the most high-tech cell-phones, looks, etc.

A lot of people are trying to find newer sources of energy and yet we have hardly seen much change in the overall energy scenario. There are still a lot of places across the globe facing huge scarcity of energy/electricity, the places having access to electricity are facing high and rising electricity prices. Few individuals/companies trying to bring in newer energy forms or optimizing the networks wouldn’t bring the change that we are looking for.

We at Ushva believe that to bring a significant change in the global energy scenario, we need to change the thought process about energy. To bring a paradigm shift, energy has to be thought of and accepted as an active component of every individual’s life.

Now the question is – How do we make energy as an active component of everyone’s life?

Ushva is developing a unique technology that shall induce a sense of responsibility about every bit of energy used at households, industries, offices, etc. along with integrating renewable sources of energy such as solar photovoltaic (PV) at a decentralized level. The technology is – ‘Next Generation Interactive Solar Inverter’.

 

P.S.: Stay tuned to know more about the technology that we are building, how we are building, the problems that we face, our ways of solving those problems, etc.

Fueling Energy | IoT – Data Fetching

When we talk about IoT, the first tasks that come along are sensing and data fetching. You can read about all the involved steps for IoT implementation in our previous blog (http://www.ushva.com/blog/2018/08/22/enabling-energy-with-iot/). Data sensing has been there for quite some time as that is also used for on-site monitoring and alarming as well as automation. There are standard sensor fittings & solutions available when we talk about the sensing task. But when it comes to data fetching and transmitting, a lot must be thought upon as there are no standard solutions/products available in the market.

The market is flooded with highly affordable Chinese devices which seem attractive in the first go. Then there are expensive devices by DELL, Microsoft and software-based solutions which require the installation of a computer (PC) on-site.
Two broad types: a) Embedded Device       b) Driver based data fetching on a PC

Choosing from the vast list of devices, it is immensely important for the implementer to choose the right set of devices/solutions for an optimal implementation.

Following factors must be considered while finalizing a fix for data fetching and transmitting:

·       Type of data logging on-site (sensors, PLCs, utility meters, actuators, etc.)

·       On-device connector requirement based on local data logging

·       Type of data to be fetched (binary, integer, float, etc.)

·       Local machine to device communication protocol (MODBUS, ETHERNET IP, PROFIBUS, etc.)

·       Amount of data points (tags) to be fetched at a given instant

·       Edge processing (on-site processing) requirement

·       Local data storage

·       Device to Server communication (Wi-Fi, GSM, LoRaWAN, etc.)

·       On-site environment and space constraints

 

Keeping in mind all the above factors, the data fetching method must be finalized along with the considerations for the future implications. Startups are comings up with new edge devices which might suit some very specific requirements as well as be affordable for the buyers/implementers. As a word of caution, one should always focus on the overall picture rather than just the initial cost.

 

P.S.: In the next blog, we will share information about the specific data fetching options for the users to be fairly aware. Stay tuned!

Enabling Energy with IoT

Energy combined with IoT can achieve wonders in terms of increased savings & enhanced performance. You can refer to our previous blog (http://www.ushva.com/blog/2018/08/13/love-is-on-the-cloud-energy-iot/) to know more about the effects of integrating Energy & IoT. Now we need to understand the enablement method for the marriage of Energy – IoT. It can be divided into 6 specific actions:

1) Sensing

2) Data Fetching

3) Data Transmission

4) Database Management (Online / Offline)5) Data Analysis

6) Actionable Insights

We shall briefly walk through all the mentioned actions. Sensing is the part where various energy parameters such as voltage, current, power factor, etc. are measured. This can be done using tools such as energy meters, specific sensors, sensors connected via PLCs, etc.

The 2nd step is to fetch the relevant parameters from the devices. This can conventionally be done using data loggers. Post data logging, in the 3rd action the data is sent to the online/offline database server using one or more of the communication protocols such as Wi-Fi, GSM, LoRaWAN, NBIoT, LAN connection, etc. IoT Gateways are typically used for this action.

Actions 2 & 3 can be carried out using a single device (IoT Edge Device) which shall be a combination of both data logger and data transmitter. Such devices can be of plug & play format to make the life of solution implementers easy than the usual hassle of doing the intensive configuration of the data loggers and gateways.

In the 4th action, data gets stacked in an organized manner on a cloud server or an on-site server. We can use a lot of available cloud services such as IBM, Amazon Web Services, Alibaba Cloud Services. These cloud service providers have extensive service offering. They also offer the services required in the 5th and 6th action wherein you can use preconfigured tools for analytics along with their big data analytics and machine learning services. Some people prefer to use their own analytics and machine learning algorithms tailor-made for their specific applications. The analysis is used to identify the actions to be taken to improvise the energy performance and increase the savings. The whole idea of implementing IoT is to improvise the scenario and that can only be done by taking appropriate actions based on the analysis of the data we collect.

“Something that cannot be measured cannot be improved.”

The above steps are the most generic actions that are required for a successful marriage of Energy & IoT.

P.S.: The next blog shall put forward some of the available & upcoming tools to integrate Energy & IoT. Stay tuned!

Love is on the Cloud – ENERGY & IoT

Let me introduce you to ‘Energy’. Energy is the most basic necessity of life. It is strongly associated with the development of mankind. This makes it the most precious amenity for life and yet it goes unaccounted for. We tend to keep a detailed check on how much data we use, what we shop, what we eat blah blah blah but then when it comes to energy, it simply gets ignored till the extent that people don’t want to know the details beyond the bill that has to be paid. Don’t you think that ‘ENERGY’ requires slightly more attention, maybe if you could show some interest in understanding about how exactly the energy has been used at your end!

Let us talk about ‘IoT’. Its the buzzword around. Internet of Things (IoT) can be simply understood as getting all the details of your working machine, energy usage, location, etc. online in real-time. IoT enables us in collecting meaningful data in real-time which can be used for further analytics and for getting actionable insights to further improvise our condition via increased efficiency, better savings, reduced down-times, being self-aware.

When Energy meets IoT, the magic happens. All of a sudden, real-time energy monitoring and analysis becomes easy to implement. This enables us to understand our energy usage patterns and makes us aware about the wastage that is happening because of the way we are consuming energy. We can also deep dive into the specifics of where and how are we using energy at our homes & work places. Energy combined with IoT makes it easy for energy auditors to collect and analyze energy data as well as it gives all the end users an opportunity to monitor and improvise their way of energy consumption for better savings and a greener tomorrow.

Let us foster the love story – ENERGY & IoT. This will be our step towards implementing the concept of smart energy and eventually lead ourselves towards a smarter and better tomorrow.

P.S. – My next article shall cover the way of implementing IoT in Energy.

Solar PV Customer Financing

It is well known that one of the factors for low and slow adoption of solar PV solution at households and SMEs is the upfront investment required from the customer’s end. If these customers could be helped with the financing, it can really change the adoption rate.

Typical customer financing would be of the form that the financer pays the solution implementer for the project upfront on behalf of the customer, the implementer delivers the solution to the customer and the customer pays back the financer in multiple installments. This will ease out the payment load on the customer, it will be a good investment with handsome returns for the financer and it will definitely be easily customer acquisition for the implementer.

This financing mechanism, if implemented at the household and SME level can do wonders to the solar PV users and the industry. These mechanism has started seeing light at the SME level but is still facing quite a lot of difficulties at the household level because of the weak legal structure in India which might very well be needed in case of unwanted defaults by the customers or in case of non-worthy solar PV system implementations which might put the lenders at risk.

Reality Check: Solar PV Subsidy

The distribution of solar PV subsidy has started the adoption of solar PV solutions at the household level on a good note. The claimed benefits of solar PV along with the added incentives of central and state government subsidies has made the overall solution quite attractive for every household. MNRE has fixed the price at INR 69,000 / kW. Central government gives 30% subsidy on the mentioned price. A couple of state governments have also added state specific subsidies on top of the central government subsidy.

All this well said and done, there are a couple of things that the end users must understand and take care of.

1 kW or 5 kW, there are some tasks that the installer has to do irrespective of the size of the installation which leads to some fixed costs to the installers for installations of all sizes. This might possibly mean that for smaller sizes, the installer might use comparatively low quality components out of compulsion. The end user can always choose to pay slightly extra to get better components which will give much better results. This will be fair for both the end users and the installers.

Most of the end users are unaware about the correctness of components to be used in a solar PV system. They are more interested in the subsidy being offered rather than considering the possibility of paying slightly extra for getting better components which might be a much better investment option financially as the output will be better and long lasting.

Taking help of consultants in such scenario of confusion might not be a bad option. The consultant might act as a bridge between the understanding of the end user and the sales efforts of the installers. In layman terms, it is better to invest INR 5,00,000 with payback period of 3.5 years instead of investing INR 4,00,000 with payback period of 6 years.

The solar PV has a long way to go. Let’s take this forward on a positive note with imparting proper knowledge and implementing it with much needed transparency.

Way-to-go for Solar PV

There is a lot of interest being shown by individuals towards solar PV usage at their private properties, but the interest to actual implementation conversion rate is tremendously low as the current solution is not attractive at its face value. The solar PV solutions need to be bundled up with certain other features which might make the overall solution more convenient and attractive.

For example, solar PV can be bundled up with home automation which might all of a sudden add significant value in the overall solution as there is lots of functionality and convenience in the overall solution where the facility is being independent in terms of energy requirement along with added energy savings because of the control of energy consumption at the equipment’s’ end via home automation. This will eventually enable the emergence of a concept called ‘ENERGY NEUTRALITY’.

ENERGY NEUTRALITY: Condition when a particular scenario becomes energy independent with the help of minimum resources.

For this concept to come true, technology bundle should be such that it takes care of all the three – energy generation, energy transmission and energy consumption in a collective manner to manage the energy scenario in the most optimum manner.

Solar PV Scenario in India and Its Adoption Issues

It is easy to tell that Solar PV is booming in India, of-course because of tremendously low solar tariffs news popping up every now and then. This should mean that solar is dead cheap now and we should be seeing it everywhere, in all farms, terraces, etc. But sadly that’s not the case. So is it because solar is not good for all or is the technology not satisfying enough for everyone to adopt or are the numbers in the news wrong?

The fact is, yes solar is booming in India and it is definitely good for all. But the boom is only in the larger solar PV market where the installations are worth certain MWs whereas when we talk about household and SME solar PV installations, the adoption is way below 1%. There are certain pain points regarding solar PV which has led to such low adoption at the ground level.

Here are the 3 major pain points:

  1. At the household and SME level, solar PV installation requires certain upfront capital investment which makes it look quite expensive to the end users.
  2. Most of the household and SME owners don’t exactly know how a solar PV system works. In such a situation, when someone goes out and suggests those owners to invest a couple of lakhs in such a system, it becomes really difficult for them to trust on the benefits against that investment. There is a lack of transparency in the working of the solar PV systems which has led to lot of misconceptions and frauds.
  3. The currently available systems in the market have been designed for stable grids which make them quite non-optimal in the Indian scenario where the grid situation is quite different because of its developing and expanding nature. The currently available systems are good for large scale solar PV power plants but quite out of sync when we talk about micro level installation that happen at the household and SME level. There is an immense need for systems that have been technically designed keeping in mind the Indian electricity grid scenario.

There is a need for specific technology which serves the Indian market with a certain extent of transparency in the system’s working which will eventually lead to making the economics more feasible followed by increased adoption of solar PV at the ground level. That is when we will actually be able to see the meaningful boom of Solar PV in India in our day to day lives.

Reasons for people to not opt for Solar

When it comes to India, Solar industry may be having its real “Boom” in the government backed tendered projects. But in the private space, things are still not Very promising. Although people are very keen on hearing about this (now not so new) technology, they are still a bit reluctant as to whether or not they want to ultimately invest in it. The main sectors in the Private solar market are Residential (Bunglows, Towers, row houses), Industrial (small to large manufacturing plants or engineering units), Commercial (offices, shops, restaurants, etc.), private educational bodies, private hospitals and community buildings. Below are a few points which a lot many times are the reasons behind companies and individuals rejecting this technology.

  • Tried and Tested:

People still lack the confidence for investing in solar rooftop systems. They would rather wait till someone in the vicinity or someone they know has set up the plant and tested its output.

  • The prices may fall:

Individuals interested in setting up solar power systems in their premise are doing regular research of the happening in this industry. They are aware about the drastic fall of tariffs for MW scale solar power plants and expect that the same will be replicated in the private industry soon.

  • Initial investment:

There is no doubt that the costs for setting up a solar power plant are high. Especially when the complete amount has to be paid by the owner at the start itself.

  • Solar should run the whole house:

Many people interested in setting up rooftop solar power system get sceptical when they find out Solar isn’t going to cut down their energy expenses by 100%. This is especially true in case of net metering where many state governments allow only a percentage of actual connected load to be set up for solar power system. Thus, they opt out of the system as it won’t make them energy independent.

  • Would like to try out a smaller system first:

Industrial or commercial clients generally have this approach towards solar power plants. They prefer investing first a smaller amount in a smaller system to check its reliability before actually thinking of going for a bigger installation.