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Cloud-based continuous monitoring solution

16 August 2017

Yokogawa Electric Corporation has developed a hot spring monitoring system solution based on its Industrial IoT (IIoT) architecture and which works on Microsoft's Azure IoT Suite.

Japan holds the world's third largest geothermal energy reserves, estimated at 23 gigawatts. However, making use of this natural resource requires great care so as not to have an adverse impact on hot springs, whose use has a history going back more than 1,000 years. 

Accordingly, it is mandatory in Japan that consensus with the local community is reached before undertaking any geothermal development project. The collection and scientific analysis of data can help to clarify the impact that any geothermal development will have on a hot spring and this is considered to be one of the tools suitable for helping to reach consensus. 

Although this scientific approach is useful, conventional monitoring systems pose challenges for developers. The bulkiness of the equipment, for example, along with other factors that make them difficult to install, and the need to cover their operating costs. 

An integrated monitoring solution
To obtain the data and conduct the scientific analysis needed to reach a consensus with local communities, Yokogawa has developed an integrated monitoring system that is just one-tenth the weight of a conventional combined system consisting of individual flowmeter, thermometer, and conductivity meter components. It requires less wiring, is easier to install, and automatically connects with the cloud.

Using a cloud-based IIoT architecture that Yokogawa continues to refine, this system will be able to visualise sensor data on the flow rate, temperature, and conductivity of the water discharged from a hot spring. Users will have anytime/anywhere access to the measurement data using a PC or tablet. 

In addition, the system will be able to store data collected over periods of ten years or more, which is expected to be a valuable asset in geothermal development. Many countries continue to develop their geothermal energy resources, and the steam and hot water from these sources is being used for power generation and heating, for example. Yokogawa's system can also be used in such applications. It will be able to monitor the steam wells used to produce geothermal energy, and will also be suitable for small-scale measurement applications such as floor heating and greenhouses.

Using Yokogawa’s IIoT architecture based on Microsoft's Azure IoT Suite, it expects to be able to offer end-to-end solutions, from the automatic registration of devices with a low power wide area network (LPWAN) such as LoRaWAN –  a wireless communications standard proposed by the LoRa Alliance – for the use of mobile phones for data transfer, remote control, and alarm notification. Based on the company’s architecture, this hot spring monitoring system will make it easier for geothermal developers and hot spring owners to exploit new hot spring sources, and will greatly reduce the amount of work required for device procurement, installation, and maintenance.

This monitoring system development project was commissioned by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), with the aim of developing a simple remote monitoring solution to assess whether geothermal power development projects are compatible with the need to protect hot spring sources. The goal of the project was to develop an inexpensive measuring instrument that can continuously and remotely monitor items such as the hot groundwater discharge rate.  

The development of this monitoring solution was a collaborative effort of Yokogawa Electric Corporation, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), and JMC Geothermal Engineering Co., Ltd. (Geo-E).

With the aim of quickly developing commercial applications for its IIoT architecture and products such as this hot spring monitoring system, Yokogawa will accelerate the development of related products and businesses.


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