Design of a software tool for PV-system-specific lightning protection
Photovoltaic (PV) systems are often installed on rooftops or as freestanding systems with no higher surrounding structures. This is why they are often exposed to the influences of lightning which can severely damage these expensive systems. Lightning protection considerations are therefore very important during the design process of a PV system and various standards should be followed when developing lightning protection strategies for PV systems. The application of these standards can, however, be a complex task. Based on the Australian Standards AS/NZS 5033:2005 “Installation of Photovoltaic (PV) Arrays” and AS/NZS 1768 (Int):2003 “Lightning Protection”, recent publications by the IEC, recommendations by the European Commission and other previously published research results, a new software tool (“Flashprotect PV”) for PV-system-specific lightning protection has been developed. Flashprotect PV makes it possible to quickly assess damage risks for PV systems resulting from lightning discharges without an in-depth knowledge of the different standards. It also makes recommendations on appropriate design of external and internal lightning protection strategies. When using this new software tool, PV System designers do not have to carry out complicated risk assessments by hand and can therefore save valuable time. In addition to that, the software can speed up the design of the actual lightning protection system.