The Essential Role of Photovoltaic Surge Protection Systems
Photovoltaic surge protection systems are integrated into the functional system and equipment chain within solar farms to achieve a more viable bottom line. This means that the integration of PV surge protection is critical to maintaining profitability. The natural occurrences that impact solar farms can quickly turn a profitable business in the opposite direction. Lightning strikes are unpredictable, so there is no way to thwart the damage they may cause except by being continually prepared at all times.
Lightning strikes and the resultant surge damage can be minimized through the integration of effective surge protection devices to avert the flow of electricity surges. The damage at the strike point itself is not the main issue at hand; instead, the power surge that follows causes the majority of the damage in a typical situation. The power surge can completely overwhelm control and data equipment that is involved in the process and is directly connected to the equipment positioned in the field through data lines and power cables.
Consequences of Overvoltage: Equipment Damage, Performance Degradation, and Financial Implications
In the case of a lightning strike, these cables and wires designed to allow functional electrical flow are overwhelmed by the extra electricity generated when the strike hits a nearby target. Induced electrical currents will make it onto those lines and come into contact with the equipment. Because that equipment is designed to operate only within a specific range of electrical power, the surge that happens goes outside the safe range and damages the circuitry of that equipment.
As a result of that overvoltage incident, the equipment itself is either permanently damaged and requires replacement or degraded. Over time, its performance suffers if the surge is not large enough to destroy it completely. The performance degradation also comes as a result of switching errors and other events that cause minor fluctuations in power, over time reducing the functional life span of the devices significantly. Either way, the equipment will need to be replaced eventually, and the operator may not even be aware of it. Ultimately excess surges in power will cost a business more money than it would have spent had it protected the equipment in the first place with adequate surge protection.
Additionally, the systems will not typically be functional when critical parts of the equipment chain go offline. This creates a situation where the system is not producing power even though the energy source is present. All moments that photovoltaic equipment is offline while the sun is shining are a lost opportunity for the business. Thus, protecting the equipment in the field with the best surge protection results in greater profitability. Keeping systems protected from overvoltage events will always be better in the long run because systems will experience less downtime and businesses will spend less on field maintenance.
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