Solar Power Generation And PV Protection
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To understand the necessity of PV surge protection (photovoltaic surge protection), we must first understand how solar power generation works. While it is far more complex than the basics stated here, it ultimately involves the collection of sunlight on specialized panels positioned outside in sunny areas. These panels must be placed in open areas to collect as much sunlight as possible. Being obstructed or shaded will impact the system’s effectiveness, and even though it might provide a certain amount of protection, that protection is not worth risking the ability of the system to produce power. Being out in the open makes solar panels a perfect target for weather events, including lightning strikes. While solar panels are relatively easy to replace, the principal forms of damage to the system’s performance are not found in the panel damage. Instead, they are found within the high-tech electronics equipment used in the collection process and connected to the panels.
Solar power positions sunlight-collecting panels in the field, allowing that sunlight to superheat liquid within a sealed system. That liquid expands and flows across turbines, causing them to move and create static electricity, which is then harnessed and processed for sale to consumers via a grid system. Unfortunately, a lightning strike on or near a solar farm can create a massive power surge. This surge can couple onto the conductive framework of the solar farm and travel along the connectivity lines. In this way, it spreads between the panels and the rest of the equipment, taking the solar farm offline. This power surge overwhelms the equipment, which can only operate within a specific power range. Anything outside that range causes damage to the circuitry. When this happens, a far more complex and expensive restoration must occur, delaying the return to functionality necessary to continue producing power when the sun is shining.
Integrating PV surge protection devices along the pathways that lightning power surges can travel effectively reduces this damage and isolates the costs of repairing the panels themselves. Technologically-advanced surge protection equipment installed at solar power generation plants will stop the damage that a lightning surge can cause and increase the plant’s productivity. This simple solution enables plant operators to reduce the damage caused by lightning strikes and keep their systems functioning for extended periods while the sun shines. The potential for cost reduction and increased power production is found by systematically reducing the field damage to these systems and increasing output. Alternative energy costs can eventually be brought down below those of fossil fuel production. In doing so, we may be able to finally enter a time when electricity does not destroy the planet and cost us our entire paychecks as well.