Photovoltaic Surge Protection Devices
Photovoltaic surge protection devices are specialized components that are integrated into photovoltaic systems to prevent surge damage from lightning strikes. The primary use for photovoltaic technology is electricity generation for public consumption, with solar power producers providing the primary market. This technology positions a panel that collects sunlight into an open and sun-rich area. This panel collects the sunlight and transforms it into heat which is then applied to a liquid held within a sealed tubing system. The fluid expands and flows to create movement in turbines that are also within the system. These turbines move to make a static electricity charge which is then distributed to customers via a power grid system. Solar power, along with wind power, is an alternative to the traditional methods of fossil fuel burning for power generation. It is significantly cleaner and produces no damage to the atmosphere. Prices charged for a single unit of electricity created using this method are also quickly dropping. Because PV systems do not rely upon a fuel source that must be mined and then destroyed, they ultimately have no fuel costs. Fossil fuels burn when used in this task, creating air pollution. They are are also limited, even though it appears that currently they are still plentiful. Eventually, they will become scarce as electricity consumption continues to rise. Ultimately they will need to be replaced by a “greener” energy source and method. No system can be sustained forever if its fuel source must be destroyed, which is why there is such an interest in further development of solar as the primary “alternative” method of electrical power generation.
Why does solar power cost more than fossil fuel technology when there is no cost for the fuel itself? The answer is hiding in the upkeep of the solar production facilities themselves. Solar power generation needs a solar panel positioned in a way that can collect the most sunlight possible. That solar panel must be connected via cables and wires to additional equipment used in the process. Because the solar panels must be unobstructed to function to their fullest potential, they are at risk of weather events, including being struck by lightning. When lightning strikes, it often damages the panel, rendering it useless and needing replacement. But such a strike also creates a massive power surge which, if allowed to move into the solar park, will travel along connection cables and overwhelm the circuitry of all the connected electronic equipment. The same functionality of the system allows the damage to happen so quickly, so the best method of minimizing damage is to integrate PV surge protection devices along these pathways. These devices stop the flow of electricity if it exceeds a specific range and doesn’t allow the electricity to reach any equipment beyond this point. The activation of a surge protection device temporarily ceases functionality in the event of a lightning strike but allows for restoration to happen quickly and far less expensively. Because of photovoltaic surge protection devices, prices are coming down, and the potential for more efficient power generation systems is increasing.