Our research innovations for photovoltaics
RWE aims for the Rapid expansion of renewable energies. As a complement to onshore and offshore wind energy, photovoltaics and storage systems are essential for the success of the energy transition. This is why, the company plans to accelerate the development of solar and storage projects in Europe, Australia, and America. Innovative solutions is key to achieve this.
We are making an active contribution to the energy transition in Germany. By 2030, we will have invested up to 15 billion euros in our green core business in Germany alone. One of our FOCUS here is on the opencast mining regions of the Rhenish coalfield. In addition to several wind farms under construction or operation, RWE is following suit with solar power.
A photovoltaic system with battery storage is being built in the future shore area of the planned Hambach opencast mining lake. Until the lake has reached its final capacity, there are still many years left to use the site for a large solar plant in the meantime. Other photovoltaic projects are also being built in the opencast lignite mines at Garzweiler and Inden.
Our research and demonstration projects for solar
At RWE Renewables Europe Australia, growth in the field of solar energy always goes hand in hand with the development of new technologies and innovations. Our projects benefit from our developers, who promote new technologies across national borders. The potential for growth is enormous. Many of these pilot projects can be tested on a small scale, while the knowledge resulting from the pilots can be applied on a large scale – drawing on our wide-ranging expertise with over 20 years of experience in construction and operation in the field of solar power.
Among others, two technologies are of particular interest to us. Floating PV refers to floating solar systems that enable the expansion of renewable energies without the use of additional land. RWE Renewables Europe Australia, the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, and Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg are jointly researching and developing this technology, along with other partners. The second technology, Agri PV, describes a concept for the dual use of agricultural land. Technologies and innovations are also of central importance in the continuous fleet optimisation of existing and future solar power plants. Here the usual high standards for quality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness apply.
Floating solar systems
This is how RWE invests on Floating-PV
Offshore solar energy
Exploring prospects for stand-alone and hybrid offshore solar photovoltaics
PV Hybrid Inden
Photovoltaic system with storage runs on opencast mine site from 2022 until completion of the Indesee.
Dual land use increases land efficiency brings opportunity for agriculture and energy transition.
Bath Abbey springs into renewable energy
In March 2021, Bath Abbey officially switched on their innovative eco-heating system, harnessing the power of the thermal spring water that flows from the famous Roman Baths.
Installed by renewable energy specialists Isoenergy, the ground source heat pump makes the most of the 1.1 million litres of water that flow beneath the Abbey every day at a balmy 40°C.
Ten custom-built heat exchangers collect heat from the thermal spring water and produce enough energy to heat the historic Abbey, and their neighbours. All in all the system generates enough heat for the Abbey, their offices, Song School and volunteer facilities – that’s almost 1.5MWs of energy straight from their own renewable source.
Sustainable waste-to-power, on a ski-slope?
A a famously flat city, when you think of Copenhagen you probably don’t think ‘skiing’. Well, not anymore!
The Danish capital is home to the Copenhill, a metallic mountain in the form of the world’s cleanest waste incinerator. The waste-to-energy power plant is one of the largest in Northern Europe, and doubles as an outdoor urban recreation ground, complete with ski-slope, hiking trails and a climbing wall.
Designed to burn a whopping 35 tons of waste per hour, it generates heat and electricity for 150,000 households using waste collected from residents and is saving over 107,000 tonnes of CO2 compared to the old plant. It even puffs a 30m wide ‘smoke’ rings to make it look like a volcano (don’t worry – it’s just steam).
Solar powered Smart palm trees
Tree-planting may get talked about a lot when it comes to sustainable living, but these trees are different…
‘Smart palm’ trees have been sprouting up in public places across Dubai. Aside from providing some much needed shade, these man-made trees are self-sustaining, solar-powered charging stations and information points, complete with Wi-Fi and security features.
Created as part of Dubai’s Smart city initiative, tourists and residents alike can enjoy fast, reliable internet while charging their electronics up to 2.5 times faster than a normal charger.
Functional by day, they’re also beautiful by night. The built-in solar panels power green LEDs fitted on top of the palm’s ‘leaves’ creating a sustainable green glow that lights up this increasingly sustainable city.
Footsteps are the future
Off to the shops? Going for a run? Pavegen have created Smart tiles to make every step count. Harnessing kinetic energy from movement, Pavegen technology converts the quick impact from footsteps into continuous power.
Effective in high footfall environments, they’ve been installed at places like Heathrow and Abu Dhabi airports, and even Oxford Street in London.
‘Smart streets’ are an interactive infrastructure solution, creating an engaging and interactive experience. Instead of walking through a dull terminal building, users can generate the very energy being used to power the lights and sounds of new high tech, sensory experiences in public spaces all over the world. All just by walking!
This type of innovation can help power the cities of the future. Find out more about Smart cities and the urban energy transition.
Power plant profile: Innovative Solar 43 Solar PV Park, US
Innovative Solar 43 Solar PV Park is a 40MW solar PV power project. It is located in North Carolina, the US. According to GlobalData, who tracks and profiles over 170,000 power plants worldwide, the project is currently active. It has been developed in a single phase. Post completion of construction, the project got commissioned in December 2016. Buy the profile here.
Premium Insights Innovative Solar 43 Solar PV Park
Turkey Branch Solar, LLC
FLS Energy Inc
The project was developed by FLS Energy and Innovative Solar Systems. The project is currently owned by FLS Energy.
Innovative Solar 43 Solar PV Park is a ground-mounted solar project which is spread over an area of 200 acres.
The project generates 66,146MWh electricity and supplies enough clean energy to power 12,000 households.
The project consists of 135,000 modules.
The project got commissioned in December 2016.
Power purchase agreement
The power generated from the project is sold to Duke Energy Progress under a power purchase agreement for a period of 15 years.
For more details on Innovative Solar 43 Solar PV Park, buy the profile here.
FLS Energy, Inc. (FLS Energy) is an alternative energy company that develops solar energy projects. The company’s services comprise operations and maintenance, project development, accounting and compliance, project finance, engineering, project management, and legal services. It also offers installation, EPC solutions for commercial distributed solar project to utility scale solar farms, in-house system design, engineering, construction, financing and turnkey project development. FLS Energy offers engineering services such as software and 3D modeling programs and monitoring systems. The company’s projects comprise Taylor Solar, Selma Solar, Nick Solar, Innovative 14, Turkey Branch Solar and Battleground Solar Farm among others. FLS energy is headquartered in Asheville, North Carolina, the US.
About Innovative Solar Systems
Innovative Solar Systems LLC (Innovative Solar) is a renewable energy company that designs and installs commercial solar power systems. The company offers services such as land development, engineering, project development, project management, origination and power marketing and project finance. Innovative Solar operates solar farms across the US. The company’s projects include Innovative Solar 35, Innovative Solar 46, Innovative Solar 10, Innovative Solar 48, Innovative Solar 23 and Innovative Solar 01 among others. Innovative Solar is headquartered in Asheville, North Carolina, the US.
This content was updated on 20 July 2023
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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying research used to produce this article.
This information is drawn from GlobalData’s Power Intelligence Center, which provides detailed profiles of over 170,000 active, planned and under construction power plants worldwide from announcement through to operation across all technologies and countries worldwide.
How advanced is solar technology?
Solar technology has advanced significantly in recent years and continues to improve rapidly. Some of the key advancements in solar technology include:
- Efficiency: Solar panels have become more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity, with some panels now able to convert over 20% of the sun’s energy into electricity.
- Cost: The cost of solar panels has dropped significantly in recent years, making them more accessible to homeowners and businesses.
- Storage: Advances in energy storage technology have made it possible to store excess solar energy for later use, allowing solar energy to be used around the clock.
- Integration: Solar technology is increasingly being integrated into buildings and other structures, allowing for more efficient use of space.
- Durability: Solar panels are now more durable and long-lasting than ever before, with some panels able to last for 25 years or more.
- Miniaturization: Solar technology is becoming more compact and portable, making it easier to deploy in a variety of settings, including in remote areas.
These advancements have made solar technology more efficient, cost-effective, and versatile, making it an increasingly attractive option for meeting the world’s growing energy needs.
What’s the future of solar energy?
The future of solar energy looks very promising, with the potential for continued growth and innovation in the years to come. Here are some key trends and developments that are likely to shape the future of solar energy:
- Continued cost reduction: The cost of solar panels has been dropping steadily for years, and this trend is expected to continue as production processes become more efficient and new technologies are developed.
- Improved energy storage: As energy storage technology continues to advance, it will become easier and more affordable to store excess solar energy for use during times when the sun isn’t shining.
- Increased adoption: Solar energy is already growing rapidly around the world, and this trend is likely to continue as more governments, businesses, and individuals recognize the benefits of solar power.
- Technological advancements: Researchers and engineers are continuing to develop new and innovative solar technologies, such as perovskite solar cells and solar-powered drones, which have the potential to make solar power even more efficient and versatile.
- Integration with other technologies: Solar energy is increasingly being integrated with other technologies, such as electric vehicles and Smart home systems, which will help to make solar power more convenient and accessible for consumers.
The future of solar energy looks very bright, with the potential to help address some of the world’s most pressing energy and environmental challenges.
Top 10 AI Innovations in the Solar Industry of 2023
The use of AI in the solar industry is rapidly expanding, offering new opportunities for increased efficiency and reduced costs. Some of the key areas where AI is being used in the solar industry include:
- Solar panel optimization: AI algorithms are being used to optimize the positioning of solar panels and reduce shading, improving solar energy production.
- Predictive maintenance: AI-based predictive analytics are being used to identify potential issues with solar panels or inverters before they become major problems, reducing maintenance costs and downtime.
- Solar forecasting: AI algorithms are being used to analyze weather patterns and solar radiation levels to predict future solar energy production, improving energy planning and grid management.
- Energy storage optimization: AI algorithms are being used to optimize the performance of energy storage systems, ensuring that energy is available when it is needed.
- Solar asset management: AI-based tools are being used to monitor and manage the performance of solar panels, inverters, and other components of solar power systems, improving system reliability and reducing maintenance costs.
- Demand response: AI algorithms are being used to encourage energy consumers to reduce their energy usage during times of high demand, improving grid stability and reducing costs.
- Solar-powered irrigation: AI algorithms are being used to optimize irrigation schedules and reduce water waste in agriculture, improving crop yields and reducing environmental impact.
- Solar-powered desalination: AI algorithms are being used to optimize freshwater production and reduce energy consumption in desalination processes, increasing access to clean water in areas where freshwater is scarce.
- Solar-powered transportation: AI algorithms are being used to optimize vehicle charging schedules and routes to reduce energy consumption in transportation, promoting the use of renewable energy sources in the transportation sector.
- Solar-powered homes: AI algorithms are being used to optimize energy usage and improve energy efficiency in residential settings, reducing energy costs and environmental impact.
Solar panel optimization
Solar panel optimization involves using AI to optimize the placement and orientation of solar panels, so they can capture the maximum amount of sunlight and generate the most energy possible. This can be achieved through a variety of techniques, including:
- Site selection: AI can help determine the best location for solar panel installation by analyzing satellite images, topographical maps, and weather data.
- Panel placement: AI can determine the ideal angle and orientation for solar panels to maximize energy output, taking into account factors such as shading, weather patterns, and seasonal changes.
- Panel cleaning: AI can detect when solar panels are dirty and schedule cleaning to ensure maximum energy output.
- Performance monitoring: AI can continuously monitor the performance of solar panels, detecting any issues that may arise and alerting operators to take corrective action.
- Maintenance schedule: AI can predict when solar panels may need maintenance, based on factors such as age, weather conditions, and performance data. This enables proactive maintenance, reducing downtime and optimizing energy output.
Overall, the use of AI in solar panel optimization can lead to increased energy production, reduced maintenance costs, and improved efficiency in solar energy systems.
Predictive maintenance is the practice of using AI to predict when equipment might fail and proactively schedule maintenance before a breakdown occurs. In the solar industry, predictive maintenance can be used to monitor the health of solar panels, inverters, and other equipment, and to detect potential issues before they cause significant problems. This can help to reduce maintenance costs, increase the lifespan of equipment, and prevent unexpected downtime.
To implement predictive maintenance in the solar industry, sensors can be installed on solar panels and other equipment to continuously monitor their performance. These sensors collect data on various factors such as temperature, voltage, current, and energy output. This data is then fed into an AI system that uses machine learning algorithms to analyze patterns and identify anomalies.
When an anomaly is detected, the AI system can send an alert to maintenance personnel, indicating that a potential issue has been identified. Maintenance personnel can then proactively schedule maintenance to address the issue, preventing it from becoming a more significant problem.
0 leading companies that are disrupting the solar industry through AI
Solstice is a startup that uses AI to help homeowners and small businesses switch to solar power and reduce their energy bills.
Aurora Solar uses AI to design and optimize solar energy systems for residential and commercial customers.
Raycatch uses AI to analyze solar energy production data and optimize solar energy systems for increased efficiency and performance.
Taranis uses AI and machine learning to provide farmers with real-time data and insights on crop health and yield, helping them to optimize their solar-powered irrigation systems.
Sunseap uses AI to optimize the performance of its solar energy systems, reducing costs and improving efficiency.
Lumin uses AI to automate the process of designing and installing solar energy systems for residential and commercial customers.
Clir Renewables uses AI to monitor and analyze wind and solar energy production data, helping operators to optimize performance and reduce downtime.
Ubiquitous Energy uses AI to develop transparent solar cells that can be integrated into Windows, reducing energy consumption in buildings.
The SenseHawk Solar Digitization Platform helps project owners, EPCs, contractors, engineers, and OM providers with process optimization, automation, and asset information management. Using easy-to-build and deploy machine learning (ML) models for data analytics, the platform enables fast, accurate decision making through the asset lifecycle, from planning through construction and operations. Stakeholders can continuously streamline workflows based on data insights, thereby improving asset health, keeping costs down, and boosting productivity.
Heliogen uses AI to control a network of mirrors that FOCUS sunlight on a single point, generating temperatures high enough to produce clean hydrogen fuel.
Swell Energy is an energy and Smart grid solutions provider uniting property owners, industry partners, and utilities behind the shared goal of achieving reliable, cost-effective, clean and flexible energy. In order to serve the needs of these diverse stakeholder groups, Swell Energy provides simple solarstorage solutions and leading grid service programs.
Ecovolt uses AI to monitor and manage distributed energy systems, including solar power, to reduce costs and improve efficiency.
Hyperion Motors uses AI to optimize the performance of its hydrogen fuel cell technology, which can be powered by solar energy.
Blue Planet Energy
Blue Planet Energy uses AI to optimize the performance of its energy storage systems, helping customers to maximize their use of solar power.