Did PV Help Your Facility Weather the Storm?

As one hurricane after another barrels through normally sun-soaked regions of the world, I can’t help but wonder at the potential role of photovoltaics in disaster response. In many cases, once the winds have died down, grid damage is one of the major hurdles to overcome.

However, it seems the situation might be more complicated than simply having solar panels installed on the roof. In news coverage after Hurricane Irma impacted Florida, two different situations arose. In Gainesville, one customer was able to rely on his newly installed PV system to ride out the grid recovery period, while it appears customers in other areas of Florida with a different utility company are prohibited from using their solar panels in the event of a grid outrage. This is because the grid-tied systems would be feeding into the lines, creating a hazard for linesmen out working on the grid.

The coverage I saw did not address onsite storage, and was also focused on residential customers. If you are in Florida or Texas and have PV generation at your facility, how did you ride out the recent storms? Were you able to rely on your solar system for backup power? I'd love to hear from you, either in the comments below or send me an email at naomi.millan@tradepress.com. 

1 Comments

  • It's my understanding that the inverters used for PV energy generation rely on a grid or emergency power supply to function. Technically, if you have a functioning emergency generator and a means to connect this backup power to the inverters, plus disconnect the facility from the grid, you should be able to utilize the solar power. The installation however would need to be configured to support this. The grid power connection is designed to prevent back feeding power (anti-islanding) to a disabled or damaged grid infrastructure. Therefore, it would be necessary for the PV power source to be physically disconnected from the grid source prior to enabling any solar energy to flow. It would also be necessary to ensure the facility power distribution system is not damaged. The system capacity vs. connected load would need to be controlled to prevent over loading too.
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