Why PV Power Generators Must Be Protected
Read More: Solar Surge Protection
PV power generation systems are a way of describing solar power’s integration into both industrial facilities as well as residential setups. Photovoltaic (PV) systems use several different components in order to generate electricity for consumption by consumers, with these components using a varying degree of protection. There is numerous different kinds of computerized equipment that is used in the process, and this equipment generally needs to be protected electrically in some form from the climate / environment in order to survive. The computerized portions of PV systems are well protected in most cases since they do not have to be housed in exposed areas in the field. The problem is but even though if this equipment it is housed inside specially designed enclosures or rooms that provide full protection from the elements, it is still connected directly to other components of the systems that are exposed to inclement weather and prone to being struck by lightning. The solar panels themselves that act as the collection units of the fuel source need to be positioned in exposed regions without interference from surrounding structures that can block the sun. They need to be as isolated as possible from surrounding structures in order to operate at peak efficiency in their task of sunlight collection. Because lightning is attracted to the easiest pathway to the earth within a region, the large and flat makeup of solar panels makes them a perfect target for lightning strikes. Since solar panels have become less expensive over the course of the last 10 years, their replacement as a result of lightning strike is not as devastating as it once was. The problem is that the panels must be connected to the control equipment through power lines and data transfer lines, along which power surges can easily flow. The lightning strike to the solar panel allows for a massive power surge to travel along the connection lines to the control equipment housed far away. This equipment can only operate within a safe range of electrical flow, ultimately meaning that it will be damaged if the power surge that is produced by the lightning strike can reach it. It is for this reason that PV power inverters must be equipped with surge protection devices that can stop this excess power from ever reaching the equipment located downstream. Effective surge protection equipment installed at appropriate locations within the power production system has the ability to potentially cut down the amount of damage that is done by lightning strikes. If damage as a result of lightning strikes can be isolated to only the strike point, and result in only the replacement of solar panels, the reduction of the cost to operate the systems ongoing will be significant. Through the installation of industrial surge protection equipment that is technologically advanced, it is possible to push the cost of operations of solar power plants below the costs of those generating power via fossil fuels, ultimately producing a cheaper and cleaner product at the same time.