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6 Steps to Stop Hurricane Injury to Photo voltaic Installations

This put up is a part of a sequence sponsored by IAT Insurance coverage Group.

Photo voltaic installations have elevated by 33% yearly over the past decade. This may be attributed to federal insurance policies such because the Photo voltaic Funding Tax Credit score. The Photo voltaic Funding Credit score Tax gives a tax incentive for photo voltaic models coupled with the growing demand for clear power.[1] Within the industrial sector, environmental, social and governance initiatives have additionally been motivating elements for his or her development.

Many constructing house owners and operators fail to appreciate that photo voltaic panels aren’t “set it and overlook it” gear. They require routine upkeep and particular care if a catastrophe strikes. If your enterprise is in a hurricane-prone area, it’s vital to have a plan to de-energize your photo voltaic panels forward of an oncoming storm to forestall loss and injury.

Safeguarding your photo voltaic installations throughout a storm

Hurricanes include excessive winds and flooding, amongst different dangers. Your photo voltaic panels will be broken earlier than, throughout and even after a hurricane.

Your upkeep employees ought to be skilled by the producer or third get together in storing and de-energizing photo voltaic panels within the occasion of a hurricane. Create a written plan, together with assigning duty for particular duties.

Comply with these steps to mitigate injury to your photo voltaic set up previous to a hurricane.

  1. Correct Storage. To mitigate injury to gear and scale back wind drag, retailer and safe all monitoring techniques in a impartial place forward of a storm. Adhere to the producers’ suggestions to retailer and safe the modules.
  2. Energy Down. To mitigate electrical losses brought on by grid disruptions throughout the hurricane, de-energize the ability earlier than the storm hits. Take it fully off the grid on the level of interconnect or within the switchyard. Then separate elements by shutting off breakers at combiner packing containers, trackers and inverters. This can assist mitigate the consequences of a single electrical loss, so it received’t negatively affect all the facility.
  3. Safe Connections. Earlier than the storm arrives, verify that fasteners and clamps are safe. Examine, restore and safe unfastened wiring as nicely. Pay particular consideration to any probably compromised areas of the ability, together with sections present process upkeep or restore.
  4. Guarantee Elements are Sealed. With hurricane winds frequently reaching over 100 mph, rain can simply enter even the smallest cracks and openings. All photo voltaic panel elements have to be frequently inspected for a water-resistant seal, particularly cupboards containing electrical gear. Cupboards ought to be locked to forestall water injury.
  5. Take away Unsecured Objects. Unsecured objects will be propelled by means of the air throughout a hurricane and trigger injury. Take away or safe any instruments and gear earlier than the storm hits. Additionally pay particular consideration to objects adjoining to the constructing equivalent to pallets. If this isn’t attainable, transfer the objects downwind to scale back injury.
  6. Examine Drainage Ditches. Blocked drainage ditches retain water on web site, leaving you open to extra water injury. Examine the drainage system to make sure it’s freed from particles and vegetative development. Construct flood obstacles when you’ve got time to assist stop undermining and erosion of racking system footings.

Recovering your gear put up storm

If the gear was uncovered to flood waters, they might be compromised and contaminated. Consequently, flooded electrical gear have to be completely inspected, cleaned, dried out and examined earlier than use. If not, your set up runs the next threat of great injury or whole loss.

Additionally, photo voltaic modules can produce energy from daylight even when they’re disconnected, and modules sitting in water can pose an electrocution threat.

All the time observe producer necessities when recovering your gear.

  • Windings and dry sort transformers ought to be dried at a temperature that doesn’t surpass the insulation ranking of the system earlier than making an attempt utilization. Once more, test the producer’s label for particular details about your gear.
  • Oil-filled transformers ought to be inspected. Draw oil samples from the tank’s prime and backside for evaluation. Search for moisture droplets or a cloudy look. A lab ought to carry out a check for dissolved water content material. Relying on the outcomes, a specialist could have to dehydrate the oil cost.
  • Circuit boards will be very delicate. In the event that they weren’t energized whereas immersed in water and don’t comprise water-sensitive elements, they might be recovered. Clear in accordance with producers pointers.
  • Different elements could should be rinsed with recent, clear water after coming into contact with flood water. Planning and getting ready can mitigate injury to your photo voltaic set up and expediate restoration within the occasion of a hurricane. Working with an skilled may help establish weak factors and different dangers in your set up – and might finally save your funding from wreck.

Contact IAT for extra info on getting ready your photo voltaic set up for a hurricane.

By Katie Bloomquist

[1] Photo voltaic Vitality Industries Affiliation, “Photo voltaic Trade Analysis Information,” accessed July 7, 2022.

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