Misunderstandings of lightning and weather events can cause some people to fail to realize the importance of surge protection with regard to solar fields and energy production systems. Alternative or “green” energy systems are understood to be primarily solar, wind and hydro-electric, with each using a completely renewable and free fuel source to create electrical power. While lightning strike threats are obvious when it comes to wind farms (often the tallest structure in an area), many fail to recognize that solar farms can also be in danger of lightning damage, even though they are typically lower to the ground and sitting nearly flat. Solar installations are not immune to lightning strike damage because they do cover wide expanses and are exposed to the elements. When there is a lighting strike near a solar site chances are it will affect one or more of the panels themselves. The damage that is sustained at the strike point itself is hard to avoid, but the real problems are actually a result of the resulting power surge. This is why solar surge protection is so crucial to the profitability of solar power producers, as an important cost of doing business lies in the repair and replacement of damaged equipment.
The energy gathering panels in a solar-power system are connected directly to control equipment that assists in the positioning of the panels throughout the day as well as the actual production and capture of electricity. Most people might think that since solar farms are designed to produce and harness electricity, electrical currents produced by a lightning surge would not produce damage at the site. Nothing could be further from the truth. The electrical damage occurs during voltage surges when the limitations of the circuitry inside the control equipment itself are pushed beyond their ability to handle the flow. This destroys circuitry and can cause fires or explosions inside overloaded equipment. The only logical method of protecting the equipment directly connected to the potential strike points is to monitor electrical current levels and provide way to break the circuit if critical levels are breached. In a nutshell, solar surge protection devices monitor the ongoing flow of electricity and shut the system down by cutting off that flow if an unacceptable level is reached. By stopping the flow of electricity over a certain level, the equipment maintains its ongoing operations without damage and is then shut down if the potential for damage happens. This preventative type of protection is the only known effective method for the solar application.
Solar surge protection devices are Raycap’s specialty, and we have taken many years of research and development to create the finest and most technologically advanced SPDs in the world. A single instance of failure of a surge protection device to do its job will result in losses that can reach into the millions of dollars, so we take our products seriously. Solar surge protection is necessary for the future of the solar industry, and for the development of green energy in general.