How IoT integrated the world’s largest solar plant in India

kamuthi solar plant

In 2016, the Adani Group commissioned the world’s largest solar plant in a single location, a strong contribution to India’s goal of 100 GW of solar power by 2020. Built in Kamuthi, 90 km from Madurai, the Adani solar project surpasses the California-based Topaz Solar farm which has a capacity of 550 MW.

The massive 648-MW Adani solar project, with five separate plants, contributes to the country’s renewable energy vision, with the overall aim of diversifying the energy mix to meet growing demand, while minimising environmental impact. The plant, spread over 2,500 acres (10 sq km), enables clean power supply for around 150,000 households, based on an average national per capita consumption, and accounts for about 10 percent of India’s solar power output.

Meanwhile, ABB’s solutions were roped in for end-to-end power and automation solutions to the solar power plant. 

ABB’s project scope included the design, supply, installation and commissioning related to the solar plant electrification and automation systems. This included two 230 kilovolt (kV) and three 110 kV outdoor switchyards to connect to the local transmission grid. Power equipment from ABB included supply of control relay panels, circuit breakers, current transformers, capacitor voltage transformers, protection systems, fibre optic telecommunication equipment, SCADA system, invertors and power transformers. 

The project was completed in a record time of six months. It involved a high level of sophistication in project management and coordination, right from the engineering stage through to the execution on site. An optimised design was created with a common layout for all the substations, for ease of execution. Multiple teams were deputed to work simultaneously, and as work continued round the clock, a high degree of safety measures was implemented. The substations were commissioned in June 2016. 

The plant is a good example of how the Internet of Things (IoT) is executed by ABB. All equipment across the plant is integrated and controlled with ABB’s Symphony Plus SCADA system. Symphony Plus, ABB’s unified automation platform, forms the digital backbone of the massive solar power plant.

Equipment across the plant, including inverters, switchyard, switchgears and weather stations, are monitored and controlled using sophisticated software from this common automation system.

Due to its large scale, 648 (MWh), any fluctuation in the plant output power will affect the grid operations. The project works on a first-of-its-kind control philosophy to maintain the power output of the plant at the grid demand.

The control philosophy of ABB’s Symphony Plus also tracks the change in weather conditions like cloud cover, which immediately affects the power generation, to adjust the inverter set-point and maintain steady output power. 

There are five automation systems — one for each substation and a central control room. This automation system offers a single view of the plant, enabling plant performance monitoring, enhanced operational efficiency and ensuring grid compliance. The IEC 61850-based automation system facilitates local and remote monitoring and control of the plant and substation assets, and paves the way for adapting IoT-based solutions in the near future.