High voltage assets on largescale solar generation sites

Blog by Andrew McHarrie, Principal Consultant at EA Technology

The concept of large scale PV generation sites is still relatively new along with the assets employed within such sites. While their young age can be beneficial, knowledge regarding how high voltage assets perform on PV generation sites is still somewhat limited.  This makes it absolutely critical for the solar power industry to share information and expertise in order for the sector to learn and improve. In order to assist in the process of knowledge sharing, EA Technology will next month launch the first Solar Power Engineers Forum.  It will take place at EA Technology in Capenhurst, Cheshire, on September 19th and the intention is that the Forum will be held twice-yearly with the next one in March.The Forum is a specialised event aimed at asset managers, engineers and others responsible for designing, building, operating, maintaining or managing solar power sites.

Why knowledge sharing matters

Deriving value from an asset portfolio in a world of installed assets is relatively easy, as long as they have been correctly designed, specified and installed; however, asset ownership and management is not always set in a perfect world, as:

  • Incorrectly specified high voltage equipment will fail prematurely;
  • Poorly designed high voltage electrical networks will suffer from lower productivity than networks that take account of the criticality of each design decision;
  • Poorly installed equipment and enclosures can lead to premature ageing of high voltage electrical assets;
  • Solar generation sites siloed by their contractual arrangements may not be aware of common issues that could affect the condition of their assets;
  • Solar generation sites siloed by their contractual arrangements may end up holding more spares stock than would be required if sites in the same portfolio shared their stock.

Looking after your assets

Assets are an investment that are purchased in order to supply a need and derive value for its owners. It has been observed that some high voltage solar site assets have suffered from an abnormal infant mortality rate compared to what would be expected of the same assets employed by a DNO or industry, such as:

  • Premature corrosion of power transformers;
  • Premature failure of cast resin transformers;
  • Earthing transformer failures
  • Underground cable failures;
  • Poor oil diagnostic results;
  • Premature corrosion of switchgear panels;
  • Partial discharge on high voltage switchgear, cables and connections.

An important aspect of an organisation’s Asset Management System is the review of its systems and the work that has been carried out. This determines what areas can be improved to create greater value from its assets, areas of risk and opportunities.

Why you should attend the Solar Power Engineers Forum

EA Technology’s Solar Power Engineers Forum will enable knowledge sharing. Benefits include:

  • Common issues can be identified at an early stage.
  • Preventative action plans can be put in place before incidents occur;
  • Failures identified across multiple organisations make a stronger argument when approaching a manufacturer;
  • Knowledge of Forum members will increase through networking with their peers and informative presentations.

EA Technology can offer a full package of services, including:

  • Reviewing an organisation’s systems and documents that define how they specify, purchase, install, manage and maintain their High Voltage assets;
  • Providing subject matter experts that can investigate incidents and issues relating to High Voltage Assets;
  • Hosting events that allow Solar Power Engineers to network and develop their knowledge of High Voltage electrical assets;
  • Incident and accident investigations to determine their cause and to provide learning;
  • Reviewing and creating electrical safety rules that comply with the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989;
  • Reviewing and implementing an organisation’s Asset Management System against ISO55000;
  • Development of a strategic spares policy.

For more information about the Solar Power Engineers Forum or to book your ticket, please click here.