It’s widely reported that the solar industry has the resource potential to meet the global electrical power demands of every nation throughout the world. During 2015, solar beat out natural gas capacity additions with solar supplying 29.5% of all new electric generating capacity in the U.S. for the first time.
Lightning activity and surge-related overvoltage abnormalities have been identified as leading causes of solar equipment downtime. Several distinctive grounding, surge suppression, and lightning protection considerations are unique to solar power generating equipment and facilities.
ALLTEC’s Power Quality Engineers are thoroughly versed with these and other idiosyncrasies associated with assessing the risk of induced lightning upon solar power generating equipment.
Users and manufacturers of today’s solar power generation equipment can benefit by strategically implementing surge protection devices (SPD) at key points throughout the power system. While this one action will dramatically reduce equipment downtime and extend operating life, it is important to point out that recommending SPD equipment for this purpose can be a complicated task.
SPDs should be installed on both the DC inputs and AC outputs of the system’s inverter.
Surge suppression should be deployed with reference to ground on both the DC (+) and DC (–) lines.
AC protection should be deployed on each power conductor to the ground.
Combiner circuits should also be protected, as should all control circuits.
Even with the considerations above, an ample surge protection scheme can only go so far to fortify the power systems’ electronic circuitry against lightning-related damage, as these do not offer any defense from physical damage resulting from direct lightning strikes.
ALLTEC offers services specific to the solar power generation industry to assess a solar power generating plant’s vulnerability to lightning-related peril. These services comprise a far-reaching and authoritative five-part survey that identifies protection vulnerabilities and recommends proven methods to strengthen the plant’s immunity levels to lightning and lightning-induced damage.
Part 1: Evaluate the Exposure Levels of Structures to Direct and Indirect Lightning Strikes
Part 2: Evaluate Existing Risk Management Techniques and Procedures
Part 3: Identify Life Hazard Threats
Part 4: Evaluate Electrical System Weaknesses to Lightning Related Anomalies within Structures
Part 5: Formulate All-embracing Techniques to Reinforce the Plant’s Lightning Immunity Levels
The lightning risk assessment service is based on ALLTEC’s proven three-tiered framework, the Protection Pyramid™. This framework calls for the implementation of proper grounding and bonding techniques, the installation of quality surge protection devices (SPD), and installation of a lightning protection system. With all three tiers implemented, there is a significant reduction in the likelihood of solar power generating equipment suffering damage or operational disruption resulting from storm and overvoltage related events–particularly from lightning-related peril.
Each level of the Protection Pyramid represents a solution utilized to protect facilities from harmful electrical events. Rather than treating these tiers as independent, ALLTEC regards the layers as interlocking components. Only when all three tiers are designed, installed, and maintained as a total system, comprehensive facility protection is achievable. Read more >>
For more information on Lightning Protection Solutions for the Solar Power
Generation Industry, please contact us.
Our engineers are unrivaled in their ability to identify lightning risks. We can recommend proven methods to bolster your solar power plants’ ability to withstand lightning related hazards.