The following presents ABI Research's market forecasts for solar panel connections for the Internet of Things (IoT), by country and region globally. Forecasts are based on connected devices per backhaul connection, including connectivity options via technologies, such as Wi-Fi, LoRa, Ethernet, Bluetooth, Zigbee, etc.
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Before delving into some key considerations about IoT deployment in solar energy operations, let’s first take a look at the following ABI Research's segmented market forecasts for solar panel connections for the IoT. Forecasts are based on connected devices per backhaul connection, including connectivity options via technologies, such as Wi-Fi, LoRa, Ethernet, Bluetooth, Zigbee, etc.
- Total utilities’ Photovoltaic (PV) solar connections are a little over 400,000 in 2022, but will reach 1.7 million IoT connections by 2030.
- In 2022, there are 260,420 solar PV connections in Asia-Pacific, which will surpass 1 million connections by 2030.
- China, Japan, and India each outdo every other country in the world, except the United States.
- Latin America is ready for a huge surge, adding 127 million solar PV IoT utility connections between 2022 and 2030.
- The Middle East & Africa, thanks to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) environmental goals, will add 225 million more solar PV connections.
- Total commercial solar PV IoT connections will hit 6.9 million by 2030, compared to just 1.9 million connections in 2022, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 16% over 2020 and 2030.
- There is a positive correlation between a country’s economic health and commercial PV connections’ prevalence.
- The United States, Japan, and Western Europe will surpass 1 million IoT connections sometime in the next 8 years.
- Germany currently has the most commercial connections (524,370), but the United States and Japan will eclipse the country by 2025 and 2026, respectively.
“What is particularly interesting about commercial connections and investment, in general, in the commercial domain is that it is all about data. Commercial economics are frugal, so every investment in the connected device and connected system has to produce optimization and improvement in the use of resources.”
- Total residential solar PV connections will grow from 4.6 million in 2022 to 14.9 million in 2030.
- Lower installation costs and the promise of energy savings make consumers in wealthy countries open to solar energy and PV connections.
- American, Japanese, and Western European consumers spend the most on solar PV connections.
- Currently, Western Europe has the most residential connections with 1.7 million, with the United States and Japan closely trailing.
- By 2030, the United States and Japan will be in a league of their own, as they will hover around 4.5 million residential solar PV connections.
- Australian citizens will be strong adopters of solar PV IoT connections too, with about 1.3 million connections expected by 2030.
- The rest of the world, including China and India, will lag far behind in the consumer space.
Key Decision Items
Deploy IoT Technologies and Smart Meters to Gain a More Holistic View of Utilities’ Operations
Solar energy companies can use Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to monitor grid data, such as temperature levels, humidity, pressure, corrosion, motion, vibration, and other important data. Not only that, the IoT converts this data into an easy-to-understand format for end users. In turn, plant resources are maximized to their full potential, extending the lifetime of solar energy grid assets like PV panels.
Perhaps the most attractive benefit of IoT sensors to solar companies is risk mitigation. IoT sensors can collect information on surrounding areas that suggest pending natural and artificial disasters like floods, leaks, fires, volcanic eruptions, landslides, earthquakes, and more. When the IoT gateway transmits this information to the end user via a cloud platform, grid operators can take countermeasures before serious problems arise.
Then there are IoT-supported smart meters, which accurately measure solar energy usage in real time. When linked to other technologies like a system operations interface, smart meters empower utilities to adjust their solar energy levels according to customer needs. In times of an outage, smart meters help distribution operators provide a quick response in an optimized way because of the automized solar energy savings features that smart meters are equipped with.
Think Carefully about IoT Connectivity Options
Private LTE and Low-Power Wide-Networks (LPWANs) are trustworthy connection mediums for smart grids with IoT deployments. While LTE is suitable for solar utilities with low-energy needs, LPWAN is recommended when a utility needs an IoT connectivity solution that supports gigantic sums of data.
It should be noted that LPWAN is not as low-latency or high-speed as 3G/4G and Wi-Fi, but it’s considered by adopters as cost-effective, reliable, energy-efficient, scalable, and good for covering vast areas.
A few open connectivity standards to pay attention to for solar energy operations include:
- Long Range Wide Area Networks (LoRaWANs)
- Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT)
- Wireless Smart Ubiquitous Network Field Area Networks (Wi-SUN FANs).
Consider Edge Networks for Faster Speeds
The edge is an incredibly valuable deployment, as more IoT devices are introduced to solar energy systems. Having a miniature self-contained network near IoT devices enables real-time analytics by avoiding the need for devices to send all their data back to an already constrained central server, which often causes a delay in communication. Deploying edge servers also saves solar energy utilities money on cloud storage because only relevant data are sent from the IoT devices to the main server, reducing the reliance on cloud solutions.
Leverage Analytics to Make Informed Decisions about Solar Energy Utilization
IoT products infused with Machine Learning (ML) algorithms and Artificial Intelligence (AI) excel at detecting analytical patterns, allowing solar utility companies to see how their customers consume energy. These IoT solutions enable grid operators to predict optimal solar energy output using forecast models based on various factors, such as region, climatic conditions, asset location, and time of year.
Meanwhile, budget-cautious customers will appreciate the ability to track the analytics of their energy consumption levels because ML can provide recommendations on how best to use solar energy. As an example, Tesla offers a mobile app for households to control their solar production. For instance, Tesla's app allows users to set energy-conserving modes for their power walls, solar panels, solar roofs, and other IoT-connected systems.
Key Market Players to Watch
Dig Deeper for the Full Picture
For more information on IoT deployments in solar energy, including use cases and market forecasts, download ABI Research’s IoT Value Chain for the Solar Market research analysis report.