Industry 4.0 in the solar thermal industry
If it rains tomorrow, we know thanks to the weather forecast of the previous evening, that we don´t leave the house without an umbrella the next morning. So far, solar thermal systems have not been able to include such weather forecasts in their regulation. A smart system regulation now brings higher, solar carriers, low costs and less maintenance. This was developed in the project SPC, “Solar Predictive Control” in close cooperation between SOLID and Bioenergy 2020+ GmbH.
SPC refers to a model-based predictive control with an overall system approach, which also incorporates forecasting methods, for systems in the range of 50kW to 5MW. First, a comprehensive control technology potential analysis was carried out on a real plant, the “Wasserwerk Andritz”, which has a collector output of 2mW. The main components of the plant, such as collectors and buffer storage, were mathematically modeled, verified with measurement data and tested in the simulation. The next step was to develop adaptive forecasting methods for the expected solar yield and heat demand. Also included here were real weather forecasts. From this, model-based control strategies were developed, integrated into the overall system control and implemented on the real plant. The modular structure of the control strategy also enables easy transfer to other plants.
This flagship project demonstrates the benefits of smart networked control strategies for complex plants. The successful implementation on a real plant represents for SOLID a decisive step towards the future in a digitized world.