Greece, known for its stunning landscapes and rich history, has recently faced a challenge that has implications for its renewable energy sector—flooding.
The impact of flooding on various aspects of life is undeniable, and one area of concern is the effect on solar photovoltaic (PV) plants, which play a crucial role in the country’s transition to sustainable energy.
Challenges for Solar PV Plants:
- Infrastructure Damage: The foremost impact of flooding on solar PV plants is the potential for infrastructure damage. Floodwater can compromise the structural integrity of solar panels, support structures, and electrical components, leading to operational issues and increased maintenance costs.
- Loss of Efficiency: Floodwaters often carry debris and sediments that can settle on the surface of solar panels. This accumulation reduces the efficiency of the panels by blocking sunlight and inhibiting the absorption of solar energy. Cleaning and maintenance become essential to restore optimal performance.
- Electrical Risks: Flooding poses electrical risks to solar PV plants, including short circuits and damage to inverters and electrical connections. The short circuits in the DC side continue to contribute current to the fault which results in a particularly dangerous for field technicians and engineers as well as disruptions to the entire energy generation process, leading to prolonged downtimes.
- Electrical risks due to the nature of photovoltaic cells: Floods can cause large scale short circuit events if the water level reaches any electrical panel. This can be a particularly difficult and dangerous case if the water level reaches and enters DC combiner boxes as the water can damage the switching components, the combiner box itself and the cables’ insulation.
- Danger of contaminants in the flood water: As PV parks are usually in remote locations or industrial/ agricultural areas, floodwater can move potentially toxic contaminants to the plant, chemically contaminating the infrastructure. In this case, technician safety is crucial and the use of safety shoes, gloves and the required PPE is of the utmost importance.
While the impact of flooding on solar PV plants in Greece poses challenges, proactive measures and technological advancements offer avenues for resilience and adaptation. Protective measures must be implemented for all electrical equipment on the PV plant as repairing these components, panels etc. can be costly and time consuming to repair in case of water damage.