Two 80MW NextEra Solar SCADA Systems and Field Controls

Success Stories

Two 80MW NextEra Solar SCADA Systems and Field Controls

SCADA integration for two 80MW photo voltaic (PV) solar farms in Florida built with a new OEM’s solar inverters and requiring OrionLX Remote Terminal Unit configuration. 

Sunshine Gateway Pioneer Trail Hero

NextEra Energy Resources

A Fortune 200 company, NextEra Energy Resources (NER) is one of the largest generators of renewable energy in the United States with more than 33 solar farms generating over 2,000MW. They develop, construct, and operate power projects, and chose Affinity Energy to implement SCADA and PLC controls at two 80MW utility-scale solar farms in Florida

Affinity Energy has successfully completed multiple PV solar projects SCADA integration for NextEra since 2017. NextEra recognizes Affinity Energy as a highly technical, professional, and customer focused company; we recognize them as our extended technical team, key partner for engineering and construction for new projects.

Nischal Patel, P.E., Lead Professional – Engineering & Construction. NextEra Energy Resources

Challenge:

In 2018, NextEra Energy Resources made a significant design change to their PV plants. Prior to 2018, General Electric central inverters were part of the standard design. Due to several factors, NER decided to specify Power Electronics, an OEM based in Spain, as the basis of design. Although Affinity Energy has provided SCADA and PLC controls on 2017 PV projects, incorporating the new inverter required significant changes to the PLC code and the SCADA HMI. 

Not only did integration of a new OEM’s inverters within the Schneider Electric Modicon PLC present a challenge, so did the current HMI template used by most of NextEra’s solar portfolio. The new inverter provided a much richer data set of parameters to be monitored for operations and maintenance purposes. Creating a user interface (UI) that allowed the user to access this additional information while keeping the experience streamlined and efficient was important. 

Lastly, due to the requirements related to allow remote control of the PV plant and cyber security, NER implements a unique design using NovaTech’s dual Orion LX remote terminal units. In past projects the remote terminal units were programmed by NER. Moving forward, Affinity Energy would be responsible for programming one of the Orion LX RTUs; thus, making the configuration and commissioning more streamlined. 

NextEra needed a solar SCADA and controls integration expert. 

Solution:

NextEra Energy Resources had previously worked with Affinity Energy on two projects in 2017Because of Affinity Energy’s SCADA, instrumentation, and Wonderware expertise in PV solar, they were awarded the Sunshine Gateway (Columbia County, FL) and Pioneer Trail (Volusia County, FL) projects in August 2018. 

Affinity Energy engineers began with the Wonderware System Platform InTouch HMI and Modicon M340 PLC control program they previously implemented on past NextEra solar projects and customized it to the specific needs of this project. 

Affinity Energy had to make modifications within the PLC and SCADA platform to properly incorporate this new inverter which had not been integrated into any previous NextEra solar farms. As the OEM modified their inverter and firmware in real time, Affinity Energy was able to incorporate it successfully into the HMI. The Wonderware HMI integration of Power Electronics inverters had double the diagnostic information when compared to the GE inverters used on all NextEra’s other solar sites. Affinity Energy’s team took the existing GE inverter HMI template and redesigned it to incorporate the additional helpful diagnostic information it in a way that was not distracting to the operators.  

Two entities needed to monitor and control the new PV plants: NextEra Energy Resources (NER) and Florida Power and Light (FPL). Affinity Energy took on additional scope to configure one of the OrionLX remote terminal units, which is part of the utility scale PV architecture for interfacing with the plant. Successful integration allowed not only both NER and FPL to interface to the system but allowed them to do so in a way that was NERC (North American Electric Reliability Corporation) CIP (Critical Infrastructure Protection) compliant.  

Through the Wonderware System Platform, the NER operators could control modes of operation such as manual, Active Power Control (APC), and Automatic Voltage Regulation (AVR). Lastly, Affinity Energy worked with DLL Solutions to ensure that all information needed from the field equipment could be properly accessed from the TopServer OPC server and integrated to the OSISoft PI Historian and ProcessBook. These tools are used for performance analytics and metric tracking purposes. 

Results:

Affinity Energy completed Sunshine Gateway in Q4 2018 and Pioneer Trail in Q1 2019. The field startup activities, while challenging due to new inverters and site support personnel, were ultimately successful. For both projects, Affinity Energy provided field support for both the initial startup activities, the first block of inverter and control testing, and final commissioning. Subsequent blocks were remotely tested after the initial block and prior to final commissioning via secure remote access. 

Affinity Energy took the initiative based on its knowledge and experience of how solar customers work with inverters and organized that information in a way that was beneficial and not distracting. NextEra Energy Resources was very pleased with the results. In fact, Affinity Energy’s HMI is now the template for any future NextEra Energy Resources’ solar farms utilizing Power Electronics inverters. 

As a result of Affinity Energy’s exceptional performance, the company will be awarded 4 NextEra utility-scale solar projects in 2019.  

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