MRO Magazine

Control centre set up for remote monitoring of solar farms


March 23, 2011
By PEM Magazine

The Spanish multinational OPDE, which specializes in the construction and maintenance of photovoltaic solar farms, has a new Control and Remote Monitoring Centre for its solar photovoltaic farms, whose main platform is located at the company’s headquarters in Spain (Fustiñana, Navarre), but has a location in the U.S.

The system used by OPDE centralizes the monitoring and storage of all the information in real time. On the one hand the installation parameters (trackers, meters and inverters) and on the other hand the meteorological parameters (temperature, radiation, wind speed). All this information is stored on a high performance server with 24×7 availability, in addition to the information related to the preventive and corrective maintenance.

The Control Centre allows operations to be carried out remotely, via the Web, or on-site on the farms in operation, “allowing the operators to maintain strict control of the facilities in situ and the users to connect via Web to their facility,” the OPDE explains. Similarly, at the Fustiñana Control Centre, all the parameters can be viewed and stored in real time (installation and meteorological) of the photovoltaic facilities that the company operates and maintains, which makes greater control and supervision possible of the operation and maintenance activities carried out at the plants.

In addition, from the Control Centre, access is available to more 300 video supervision monitoring cameras that are fitted with smart image recognition, for the detection of intruders.


At present, from the Control Centre more than 100 MW of photovoltaic solar farms are managed in Spain and, soon, remote monitoring will take place of the 60 MW under construction and which will be operated and maintained in Italy and other countries. At the moment OPDE stores, controls and manages from their Control Centre a total of 10,000 trackers and about 30,000 invertors, all in real time, receiving and storing the information every 5 minutes. By the end of 2011 they will be controlling 16,000 trackers and 48,000 inverters.

OPDE has received requests from international operation and maintenance companies, as well as from investment funds owning photovoltaic facilities, located in Italy, Germany, Greece and the U.S., to incorporate into their new Control Centre other solar plants — not promoted by OPDE — and provide them the monitoring and control service independently from the company that maintains and operates the farm.

The new Control Centre replaces the previous one — that the company had developed internally, with the aim of taking care of the new technical and regulatory requirements.

Besides those already mentioned, the company says the main advantages of the new centre are:

  • Fast and efficient elaboration of the information that allows the state of the facilities to be evaluated: Availability reports, PR, information on preventive and/or corrective maintenance activities etc.
  • Exhaustive and simple monitoring with respect to performance, alarms, fast trouble shooting for quick repair, etc.
  • Open system, flexible and robust that allows absolute compatibility of integration with other types of solar technologies within the platform.
  • High data storage capacity that guarantees reliability and availability of the same.
  • The user can collect data and historical graphs from their facilities as required and during the periods of time that interest them.
  • Separation of the maintenance and operation tasks conducted in the field, from the control and supervision tasks realised by the Web tool of the Control Centre.
  • The system allows diverse user profiles to be created, based on the assigned permissions, in order to visualize different parameters of the facilities. Thus there will be essentially 3 profiles: Centre Administrator Profile, Proprietor Profile, and Maintenance Company Profile, all categorised by plant or groups of plants.
  • The Control Centre integrates surveillance cameras at the farms OPDE maintain and can display images in real time and move the domotic cameras from the Control Centre.

The new centre has been configured and installed in technical collaboration with the company GPM, which have been developing since 2008 control and operation platforms for facilities compatible with MECASOLAR trackers in Spain, Italy and Greece, as well as for other existing photovoltaic and manufacturing technologies on the market. It has ample experience guaranteed by its technological solutions which have been installed in more than 500 MW and are in full operation.