Solar farms are just big fields covered with conductive material. They’re almost asking for a lightning strike, which can damage or destroy solar panels, inverters, and other critical equipment. So it’s no surprise that lightning activity and surge-related over-voltage abnormalities are identified as leading causes of solar project downtime.
Lightning can be destructive even when it’s not a direct hit. Indirect lightning events generate an electromagnetic force that induces overvoltage and transients on AC and DC power conductors and data lines.
The good news is solar owners and developers can protect their investment from the fallout of lightning strikes. Engineers at ALLTEC, a global manufacturer and installer of grounding and other lightning protection technologies, have identified methods to bolster a project’s ability to withstand lightning-related hazards using a three-step process called the ALLTEC Protection Pyramid. While there is typically no code requirement for solar farm owners to install lightning protection, there are internationally recognized standards and methods to determine the requirement of lightning protection systems, and it’s a bright idea to take action. The pyramid provides guidance.