LEDsafari has been active with solar training programmes in India and Africa since 2016. It provides the artificial intelligence enabled sensor and data management platform. Being an EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne) spin-off, LEDsafari is closely collaborating with various EPFL environment and energy labs.
Monitoring, control and payment technologies can have strong positive effects on the drivers of mini-grid profitability; that means revenues, tariffs and costs. Appropriate monitoring capabilities also inspire investor confidence and enhance the customer experience by improving the reliability of the energy supply.
LEDsafari has developed an affordable plug and play sensor (HelioHealth), which when connected to the energy supply system (e.g. photovoltaic panels) and the control system, detects failures using automatic learning in the cloud. It then provides solutions to correct failures using e-learning modules. During the project, the AI-enabled sensor and its IT platform were adapted for mini-grids in India, for monitoring small-scale solar power production and consumption (e.g. solar pumps, DC devices). 100 sensors were to be deployed in 15 locations and several commercial models were tested.
The sensor (HelioHealth), its failure identification tool (HelioApp) and the online lessons for troubleshooting (HelioLearn) have been further developed and adapted to Indian needs. LEDsafari has installed 105 sensors at 30 sites; mostly in the north and a few in the south of India.
Following a commercial evaluation, a software as a service (SaaS) model was selected to be offered to customers. This monitoring technology has been shown to significantly reduce system failures (up to 80% less) and maintenance efforts (50% less), as well as to increase photovoltaic power production by an average of 10%. As a result, the profitability of the solar systems has improved. Additionally, the remote monitoring and e-learning platform has proven to be particularly useful in times of pandemic crisis; minimizing field trips.