Customer application 11 March 2022
Megawatt Solar Parks: WAGO Switches Help Keep Track of Data in the Control Cabinet

Gantner Instruments, a specialist in photovoltaic monitoring and control, uses WAGO switches in the control cabinet for optimal network diagnostics – for more flexibility, a high level of reliability and easier planning.

Solar energy is clean, sustainable and safe. Gigantic photovoltaic power plants are expected to radically change the global energy supply in the coming years. The smooth operation of such PV systems is indispensable for high-yield power generation through solar power – and can only be ensured through consistent, location-independent data monitoring. As a full-range supplier for monitoring, control and analysis of large-scale solar plants, Gantner Instruments is making a contribution to forward-looking development of renewable energies.

For networking the decentralized control cabinets, the company relies on ETHERNET switches from WAGO. These powerful managed switches are a typical example of how the Minden-based interconnection and automation company helps increase availability and supports the entire lifecycle of a control cabinet with its products: from planning and production, to testing, commissioning and ongoing operation.

Benefits of WAGO Switches:

  • Planning: temperature simulations before first use

  • Manufacturing: easy DIN-rail mounting and quick accessibility of product documentation and operating instructions via 2D barcode

  • Testing: accelerated commissioning and troubleshooting with the help of a diagnostic dashboard

  • Operation: simple, seamless transfer of all information thanks to integrated Modbus TCP interface

Stable Data Communication with WAGO Switches

“Reliable, innovative hardware components are essential for our projects,” emphasizes Gantner’s managing director Jörg Scholz. This company from Zwönitz in Saxony is a global market leader for control, monitoring and analysis of photovoltaic power plants. Last year alone, the company delivered solutions for more than four gigawatts of solar power. The total number of newly acquired measurement channels with a typical measurement rate of up to 1 Hz has reached about 10 million annually. “Creating redundancies, ensuring stable systems and avoiding downtime are the focus of such systems,” explains Scholz. Therefore, Gantner’s advanced monitoring, control and analysis technology is developed in accordance with ISO 9001.

In addition, when looking at large data volumes, it is important to use new Big Data technologies to obtain valuable information about the condition of a power plant, calculate production forecasts and perform predictive maintenance. When it comes to reliable network diagnostics in the control cabinet, Gantner cooperates with WAGO. “In addition to programmable logic controllers, which we use for network operator communication, we rely on WAGO’s range of switches. We’re impressed by their functional, electrical and mechanical properties; they provide maximum scalability in our ETHERNET network infrastructure,” says Scholz.

» WAGO meets all the requirements that we demand from switches in our control cabinets. «

Jörg Scholz, Managing Director of Gantner

Advantages throughout the Entire Lifecycle of the Control Cabinet

The strengths of WAGO switches are already evident in the planning phase: Through the possibility of temperature simulations, Gantner can work together with its customers to ensure in advance that all products used will operate correctly according to the specifications. Another a major advantage over comparable products from other vendors on the market is the flexibility and simplification of solar power plant planning through use of a single switch equipped with either multi-switch or single-switch plug-in modules.

“The compact devices have a large number of ports, provide clear organization and ensure uniform standards,” says Scholz. This also allows efficient inventory management, which guarantees rapid replacement when needed. The managing director provides an idea of the scale involved: Northern Europe’s largest solar park is currently being built in Kassø, Denmark, with an output of 300 megawatts. “We provide support there with over 70 outdoor control cabinets, in which 67 WAGO switches are installed. These provide a complete overview of the data and ensure maximum network stability. That requires more than just functioning technology – support is crucial too. And WAGO gives us what we need.”

With such projects of such scale, easy DIN-rail mounting of the switches is also an important advantage in the production phase, since it saves time. The option of importing the initial configuration into the control cabinet, as well as the accessibility of product documentation, operating instructions and WAGO support via a 2D barcode attached to each housing, are practical advantages.

When the switches installed in the control cabinets are integrated into Gantner’s ETHERNET network during the testing and commissioning phase, they provide all the necessary information to speed up commissioning, testing and troubleshooting through a clear “topology map” and a diagnostics dashboard. This makes it easy to detect possible wiring errors. In addition, it is possible to restrict communication within the network segment to authenticated participants only. This increases network security, reduces costly downtime and increases the overall availability of the ETHERNET network.

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“During ongoing operation, we can easily and seamlessly incorporate all the information into our cloud-based SaaS monitoring system, Gantner.webportal, via the WAGO switches’ integrated Modbus TCP interface,” explains Scholz. The interfaces support optimal monitoring of PV power plant operation, since faults can be localized precisely. “This can save a lot of time and money in operations and maintenance, where there are often well over 150 switches installed per system,” emphasizes Scholz. Network problems can be handled in the same way as any other incidents that occur in a solar park, such as those caused by inverter or transformer failures. Use of WAGO switches also achieves a significantly higher level of fail safety, since they allow a ring architecture in the network, which allows redundant communication in the event of a fault. In the event of a fault within the network, Gantner.webportal sends an email immediately, triggering the maintenance process. This allows the switches’ performance to be closely monitored over years.

Maximum Security for the Data Flow

Huge streams of sensitive data require the highest security standards on all active network components. Therefore, Gantner Instruments has obtained ISO 27001 certification to serve critical infrastructure (CRITIS) customers. WAGO also meets these requirements with its switches.

For example, one option is to only allows network access from authenticated subscribers; selected data packets can be blocked via a packet-based firewall. The separation of individual network segments via VLAN in compliance with the IEEE 802.1Q standard provides additional security. In the event of uninstallation, Gantner can also revert the switches’ configuration to factory default settings to prevent misuse of the access data. “WAGO meets all the requirements we place on switches in our control cabinets – we can rely on the technology, as well as the support, from the planning stage all the way through to ongoing operation,” says Jörg Scholz with satisfaction.

Product Overview

Industrial Switches

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Controllers

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