This paper proposes and assesses an integrated solution to monitor and diagnose photovoltaic (PV) solar modules based on a decentralized wireless sensor acquisition system. Both DC electrical variables and environmental data are collected at PV module level using low-cost and high-energy efficiency node sensors. Data is real-time processed locally and compared with expected PV module performances obtained by a PV module model based on symmetrized-shifted Gompertz functions (as previously developed and assessed by the authors). Sensor nodes send data to a centralized sink-computing module using a multi-hop wireless sensor network architecture. Such integration thus provides extensive analysis of PV installations, and avoids off-line tests or post-processing processes. In comparison with previous approaches, this solution is enhanced with a low-cost system and non-critical performance constraints, and it is suitable for extensive deployment in PV power plants. Moreover, it is easily implemented in existing PV installations, since no additional wiring is required. The system has been implemented and assessed in a Spanish PV power plant connected to the grid. Results and estimations of PV module performances are also included in the paper.
Keywords: monitoring; photovoltaic power systems; solar power generation; wireless sensor network.