Energy retailer AGL is starting to treat customers’ solar panels as connected “things” that can be used to collect useful data on their working state.

Head of IT Delivery Andy Williams said customers could log into a portal called Solar Command to see how their panels are performing and for “advice on how to improve performance, for example whether they need cleaning or if a panel is malfunctioning or needs repair.”

The service is powered by Microsoft’s Azure cloud, which recently branched into an Internet of Things suite.

“Solar Command is [our] first foray into collecting non-meter data and adding real value for our customers,” Williams said.

“I think the whole IoT and machine learning side is very exciting and obviously very closely linked into what we can get out of Azure.

“I think we’re starting to see that as our real future.”

Williams said the concept of IoT wasn’t new to AGL, as it had existing “connected physical infrastructure”, including smart meters.