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The Resilience of Solar Panels During Cyclones

India is one of the countries most hard hit by climate change. In recent years, we have seen the havoc wreaked by a number of cyclones: Tauktae in 2021 and, of all things, Biparjoy in 2023, which made landfall in Gujarat. With these typhoons coming more often and getting fiercer each time, solar rooftop photovoltaic (RTPV) systems built in coastal areas of India increasingly look like they are going to be in trouble.

This article is intended to draw lessons from the experience of cyclones hitting the country’s solar infrastructure and to lay out what can be done in terms of measures in order for a more robust and sustainable renewable energy sector:

Impact on Solar Panels in Cyclone Areas

With the severe natural disasters of cyclones and hail storms in mind, one wonders how long solar PV systems will last. A solar panel represents a significant investment; it is crucial to be able to find out about its life expectancy.

Fortunately for its users, advances both in the materials used in systems, such as silicon metal frames and engineering, have made solar panels more durable against weather phenomena. Thus, solar panels are far more rugged and resilient than one might initially think.

In recent years, besides cyclones such as Biparjoy (2023) and Tauktae (2021), there are also some severe cyclonic storms like Fani (2019) that have struck the Indian coast. Characterised by strong winds reaching speeds of around 150-200 kmph, heavy rainfall, and destructive forces, these cyclones have left a lasting mark on India’s RTPV systems, particularly in the coastal regions of Gujarat and Odisha.

The fierce gusts of cyclones gave RTPV systems all kinds of problems. Solar panels were blown off, panels were broken, frames squashed, and structures that supported the mounting of them weakened. The heavy rains and consequent flooding made the situation worse, causing electrical component failure and placing the whole system in danger. In some cases, whole solar panel arrays were destroyed, and solar system owners lost a great deal of money.

Building Resilient Solar Solutions

One possible reason for the injury to RTPV systems in cyclones may be that, as the cost of RTPV systems declines, there is a general decrease in their quality and durability.

Besides, there are many things that could be done to enhance the resilience of RTPV infrastructures, such as,

  • Carrying out a comprehensive survey of all vulnerabilities in RTPV installations and issuing regulations and standards that have every last bit to withstand during cyclones.
  • A dedicated team for regular evaluations of RTPV systems on-site would also make an excellent idea. The team will secure the quality, safety, and standards of RTPV setups, raising their level of reliability and ease in the long run.
  • A further public awareness campaign to educate solar system owners about cyclone-secure thought and techniques for normal upkeep (such as keeping tree limbs away from solar panels) as well as the necessity of backup storage power such as batteries to ensure ongoing electricity supply throughout extreme weather events.

Do Solar Panels and Batteries Work During Cyclones?

In the case of cyclones, there is cloud-carrying rain, yet solar panels still can generate power. However, cyclones can damage the grid lines, causing outages in electricity production. In restoring the grid, all solar systems must withdraw their power generations, for this is safe from a maintenance worker’s point of view. In that case, you will need backup power such as a solar battery or generator.

How Can You Protect Solar Panels From Cyclones?

Solar panels are solid human pyramid blocks, but one of the most common ways they get injured or broken is falling debris cascading down during wind events.

Because rooftop solar panels are considered an attachment to your home, they may be covered under your homeowner’s insurance. Alternatively, you might need either a supplement or a separate policy for ground-mounted panels or solar tarps under an existing contract. While it does involve investing money, in the event of a typhoon that causes more damage than you expected, having insurance may pay off for your trouble.

Here are three ways in which you can make your solar panels wind-resistant,

Tighten Solar Panel Bolts

Solar panel installations frequently involve crashes. So, if it comes down to using stainless steel bolts or nuts and bolting them onto the installation site wherever an installer works, do it that way. It’s common for nuts and bolts at mounting holes to have come loose due to high winds.

Civil Work

Typically, homeowners install solar panels in accordance with available roof space. They utilise the remaining available space up top on the porch, backyard area, or high-walled pavilion.

In such cases, it is recommended that good civil work be done for panel stand legs: On a level with the flat roof surface are pads made of 300*300*300 (L*W*H), weighing approximately 70 kg. On the high-rise building elevation, the pads are made with dimensions 400*400*400 (L*W*H) and weigh about 90 kg. All screws used throughout this process should be a No. 10 in-home liner.

Temporary Uninstallation of Solar Panels

In India, batteries are commonly connected in single and double formation for charging by less than 1 kW solar panels. However, little care is paid to the addition of proper panel stands. It is a frequent mistake that when battery charging solar panels are installed, they are installed on any area, hut roof, or half wall. In these cases, it’s recommended that the solar panel owner take down the panel before the cyclone comes. Then, when everything returns to normal, they can reinstall it.

In a world dealing with climate change and its associated challenges, the ability of solar panels to withstand cyclones can hardly be considered just a technical achievement; it represents the magnificent power of technology that is transforming society and life in a new way.

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