Enterprise SCADA Streamlines Processes for Renewable Energy9 min video / 8 minute read
- Tags: 386,000
- Screens: 39 + 10 popups
- Clients: Remote operations center with 6 monitors in control room (30+ users)
- Alarms: 650
- Devices used: 6 Sites (1.7 GW), 6 Substations, 47 Breakers, 351 Blocks, 1720 Inverters, 611 Trackers, 27 MET Stations
- Architectures used: Hub & Spoke
- Databases used: Postgres SQL Server
- Historical data logged: 10K Updates per Second, 6.38B Updates per Month, 10K+ Calculations, 1.2 TB of Data
SB Energy engaged Vertech to provide a world-class enterprise SCADA solution for their new remote operations center. They needed a single-platform SCADA system to oversee six solar locations across North America and report industry-standard KPIs and data analytics in real-time.
SB Energy wanted a way to monitor and control a newly acquired portfolio of PV Solar Plants from their remote operations center in Redwood City, California. This enterprise-level SCADA project involved designing an Ignition solution that could integrate with six solar sites to perform real-time data acquisition, data validation, data consolidation, site monitoring, and performance analysis with clear industry relevance. The client requested that the Ignition platform be used at both the Enterprise and Site levels. It was critical that the new software’s performance would stand up to the sheer amount of data coming in from power plants in the field, while also providing a modern and beautiful UI that end users would appreciate.
The Vertech team successfully created a single-platform, multi-site management tool that allows this greenfield operations center full access to view and optimize performance at each remote site. Ignition Perspective was the primary visualization tool for the application. With its ability to connect to multiple data sources, an unlimited tag count, and web-based SCADA capabilities, the Ignition platform proved to be an ideal fit for SB Energy's business environment. As a result of the enterprise solution, which employs powerful Ignition features, SB Energy has complete visibility of its fleet of sites, assets, and energy production performance. Now they can more easily maximize energy production and resolve maintenance issues with less time and resources. The dynamic, highly scalable new system also gives SB Energy a strong base for the future.
Chris: I'm Chris McLaughlin, SCADA and MES Specialist from Vertech. Vertech is a Premier Certified systems integrator that specializes in SCADA and MES projects. We exist to elevate human well-being through automation. So this is an enterprise-level SCADA system that is used for monitoring and analyzing all of the SB Energy solar sites. And it's used right here in the remote operation center in Redwood City, California, to operate and view all of their solar fleet.
Charles: I'm Charles Fortuno, Senior Manager for SCADA Control System Design at SoftBank Energy. SoftBank Energy develops, owns, and operates large, utility-scale battery storage and solar power plants all across the United States. We have a team of subject-matter experts, from SCADA engineers to asset managers, operations and performance engineers, that look at the data with a specific lens and perspective, and we needed a platform that was highly customizable to provide them the information that they needed. So we started construction on our first project in February of 2020, and by early 2022, we would have almost 1.7 gigawatts of solar power plant assets. This included over 1,700 inverters, hundreds upon thousands of electrical devices, from breakers, capacitor banks, relays to transducers, and we needed a single platform and medium to be able to monitor all these devices remotely and centrally.
Andy: I'm Andy Singh. I work at SoftBank Energy as Director of Software Architecture. Yeah, there were two major problems we were confident that Ignition would help us solve. One is, we knew we had a lot of data coming in from our power plants in the field, and so the performance of the software was critical, and that's... and Ignition shined in that regard. The other aspect was create, we wanted a modern UI, we didn't want software that looked dated and up in the '90s, and Ignition had that capability to make a customized, beautiful UI that the end users love.
Chad: My name's Chad Waddoups, I'm a Senior Control Integrator with Vertech. Ignition is a good fit for this project because of the ability to connect to multiple data sources, an unlimited tag count and Perspective's web-based SCADA is ideal for SB Energy's business environment. Ignition Perspective is the primary visualization tool for the application. We utilize Perspective to provide customized user dashboards and reporting for each site. We also utilize Ignition's alarming to provide a high-level situational awareness for each site.
Chris: With a single site, you can log in to your site's SCADA and be able to see the content that you need. By the time you get up to two or three sites, it becomes more complex and it's harder to figure out what's happening across a few. By the time that you get to an entire fleet of sites, it's a real problem. And so with Ignition, what it's doing for you is that you can immediately log in and be able to see all of your lowest performing inverters across all of your sites or a real power trend for all of your sites in just one dashboard. Ignition is solving the problems of being able to see your content across an entire fleet.
Andy: The site performance dashboard is a great way... Once you see a plant is maybe not performing as well as it should, it's a great way to go and debug the issue. So you click into a project, you see the site performance specifically, you can go and then understand, is it due to a weather issue or is it a real problem with the equipment at the site?
Chad: The biggest challenge was simply how to get the amount of data into the Ignition application and how to present it in a usable and easily understood way for the operators. Ignition's designer and training documents make it really easy for our developers to go through and make the changes that are necessary and develop the tools that are necessary to accomplish those tasks. Ignition's ability to pull data in from multiple sources, utilizing API calls, the Historian, MQTT are key to bringing the amount of data that's necessary to make the application successful. Ignition's alarming also provides the customization that's necessary to configure smart alarming for the sites.
Chris: Ignition is powerful, unlimited, flexible and scalable, it's the same answer for any SCADA system. This project in particular is a large data-driven project with tons of tags and a lot of actionable information that needs to be in KPIs, it's a perfect fit for Ignition.
Chad: This is the overview screen for SB Energy, it offers a high-level overview of the entire fleet performance. There are some KPIs for the entire fleet down at the bottom, as well as a high-level overview of each individual site along the right side. Navigating to an individual site, takes you in and shows you detailed information about that particular site, so some plant performance, some site-level KPIs, as well as interesting graphical ways to view the application or site data, such as the combiner heat map or the heat map for the site's PCSs. The ability to configure alarms allows the user the ability to configure individual alarms within the application, allows the user to configure batch alarms by selecting a particular site and device type, allows the user to edit existing alarms, edit site-level alarms that are already existing, or just view alarms that exist within the application itself.
Andy: Working with Vertech was great. We had a lot of users at our company who had a lot of strong opinions and input, yet they were able to work collaboratively with us, take those inputs and opinions and produce a design that was easy for us to understand. Not only that, when we had additional feedback, they were able to quickly iterate and make changes using the Ignition platform.
Charles: Yeah, working with Vertech was a great culture fit because they're great communicators and understand our requirements and be able to provide solutions to any problems we had. They're also very passionate and innovative, so we would give them an idea and they would just expand upon it.
Chad: SB Energy was great to work with. They came to us and had a great team, they truly knew what they wanted, and working with them was, felt like a truly collaborative effort.
Andy: Yeah, the overall results of the project have been great for SB Energy's business. Our end users can detect issues in real time often more quickly than the people at the site. By detecting issues early, we can reduce the amount of downtime a plant has, and that allows us to maximize the energy harvest of the power plant, which ultimately leads to more revenue for SB Energy. One of the new features for this application that we're doing soon is to bring in market information into the application. This will allow users to visualize the actual revenue that the power plant is producing and allow them to make decisions to optimize that revenue for SB Energy.
Charles: The solution is very progressive, up-to-date and the software stack is very intuitive, so that you don't need a 30-page manual to operate the system. You could pick it up as you go. And support is very good as well. So now with our enterprise Ignition system, we're allowed to integrate silos of data and be able to view all of our information through a centralized location.
Chris: And for SB Energy, Ignition to them is the ability to generate more power and to respond smarter to alarms and maintenance conditions, exactly what a business should be doing, and Ignition empowers them to meet their goals. The system was built in a dynamic way, from the tag structure all the way up to the dashboard features, therefore it's easy to add a site and it automatically populates the rest of the screens, which makes the entire system very scalable, giving SB Energy a base for years into the future.
Created By: Vertech
At Vertech, we believe there's a human way to do industrial automation. Sure, we design bulletproof MES, SCADA, OT, and controls solutions that are a joy to use. But we're also your long-term ally. No more endless change orders. No more paying good money for a half-solution. We're here to reduce your tech-related stress, not add to it. And who knows? You might even enjoy the process.
Project For: SB Energy
SB Energy is a leading utility-scale solar, energy storage, and technology platform. We develop, construct, and own and operate some of the largest and most technically advanced renewable projects across the United States. Our experienced team and deep partnerships across development, financing, construction, and operations bring strong execution and innovation to each of our projects and have enabled SB Energy to rapidly scale.