PV plants need lightning protection systems


Lightning-protection systems (LPS) for utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) plants have to conform to the SANS/IEC 62305 standard. SMEC South Africa can provide design expertise in this regard to ensure best-practice engineering. The design of the LPS requires an engineer with some specialist knowledge and experience in electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). Although the risk-evaluation matrix of the standard is a logical process, it can have dire results if a practitioner produces faulty output based on poor-quality input. Solar PV plants have complex AC and DC electronic systems and cabling for power, control, and monitoring, especially where the panels are required to track the sun. Designing a system to ensure minimal damage during a lightning strike, while balancing cost-benefit considerations, is a significant challenge. The standard allows for cost-benefit trade-offs between the costs associated with loss of equipment, production losses, and repairs as a result of lightning strikes, versus the costs of further improvements to the LPS.

Contact Anne van Vliet, SMEC SA, Tel 011 369-0600, anne.vanvliet@smec.com


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