Developers from DEGERenergie have created a so-called design tool which planners and operators of solar plants can use to safeguard against storm damage – providing a standard of safety that is currently not demanded by legislators or insurance companies. Tracking systems from the company increase the energy yield of photovoltaic systems by up to 45 percent.
When Hurricane Kyrill swept across Europe in January 2007 it left a trail of devastation behind it. The storm reached gusts of up to 225 km/h, took 47 lives and, in Germany alone, it caused damage amounting to Euro 4.3 billion.
A 2 megawatt solar plant, valued at around ten million Euros, was destroyed. Artur Deger, founder and managing director of DEGERenergie: “In future we will have to reckon with more and more storms like this. This is why it is so important to actively deal with the subject, rather than just waiting for something bad to happen. After all, there are currently new solar plants being put up everywhere.”
According to the company spokesman, the problem begins with the legislator: “Up to now there have been no pertinent guidelines for erecting photovoltaic plants. It has not even been decided whether such a plant is to be classified as a building or a machine. Consequently, building permits are usually awarded without any structural engineering inspection. A plant torn from its anchor not only causes considerable damage to property, it can also endanger people. However, due to the lack of legal guidelines, virtually all of our competitors neglect safeguarding their plants against storm damage and sell their systems without taking account of the different wind load zones around the world.”
The new design tool takes account of wind loads in different regions of the world. A solar plant planer only has to enter three values: country, height above sea level and the official wind load factor. The software tells him which DEGERtraker can be used in this region with how many solar modules in order for it to be appropriate and safe for installation. A safety reserve ensures that, as a rule, even peak gusts will not affect a plant installed according to these specifications.