the " big solar flare" and PV

toppertopper Posts: 113Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
We were talking at work today about the predictions of 2012. What effect would a LARGE solar flare have on a battery based/grid tied system? If it the flare was big enough to knock the entire grid out for years as they predict, would an inverter disconnect fast enough to protect itself? I would think a system like the XW, Sunny Island or Outback, would disconnect from the grid before any major internal damage would be done to the inverter. Anyone with any knowedge on this, please share.

Thanks for your input.
Ken

>>> Would PV panels be effected at all?

Comments

  • BB.BB. Posts: 25,259Super Moderators admin
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV

    We have had some discussions here:

    Making a PV system survivable in EMP/CME conditions?

    Short answer, for Solar Flares, off grid power systems are just too small to "receive" the energy from the sun and be damaged.

    Harden your system against lightning damage the best you can and have some spares available--Much more likely than an CME or EMP for the average user.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Posts: 2,493Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV

    Especially hard to damage an XW system with GFCI.;)
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail offgridsolar@sti.net

  • halfcrazyhalfcrazy Posts: 716Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV
    BB. wrote: »
    We have had some discussions here:

    Making a PV system survivable in EMP/CME conditions?

    Short answer, for Solar Flares, off grid power systems are just too small to "receive" the energy from the sun and be damaged.

    Harden your system against lightning damage the best you can and have some spares available--Much more likely than an CME or EMP for the average user.

    -Bill

    HUH???

    What would the GFCI do? My understanding an EMP pulse would be picked up by any wires attached like even the Ground wire?
  • waynefromnscanadawaynefromnscanada Posts: 3,009Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV

    Methinks Dave is making funny ;);)
  • BB.BB. Posts: 25,259Super Moderators admin
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV

    I am not sure where GFCI came into the discussion?

    Anyway, using a Inverter/Transfer Switch to disconnect from the Grid during a CME is probably not going to work well... The problem is that a CME inducing current into the grid will create many thousands of volts, more than enough to jump the gap of a transfer switch. Again, in my humble opinion.

    If you knew a bad CME was heading for earth with sufficient time--Disconnect all wires/cables from the home with feet of separation would probably be needed (power, cable TV, phone line, etc.) to keep your home and electronics safe from the induced voltage in the long copper lines.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • toppertopper Posts: 113Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV

    OK. There is the reply I was looking for. Grid connected people of the world. You're screwed unless you manually disconnect. Transfer switch or not, your system will fry. Or did I misunderstand?
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Posts: 2,493Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV
    Methinks Dave is making funny ;);)

    It is both a funny and an urge for anyone who might be building an inverter to design it as Xantrex did. No matter if the signal to shut down an inverter comes from a GFCI or an Arc fault it is always better if the system shuts down and protects the loads. Depending on how close or how powerful the lightning strike or EMP is might make the difference. Direct experience here!

    This is the only reason I have disagreed with you folks here about GFCI. We went thru this on the Xantrex forum when their first MPPTCC came out. At the time I had a client who was upset that the system shut down during a close strike. There was talk of allowing the user to decide (Telecommunications). Now after years of direct experience with a blown 1 amp fuse and a functional system after lightning I know it is a good thing! Sometimes there is not anyone home to shut down and I "know" this has helped.

    Definately not saying that this will save you from EMP or Lightning. Definately saying that it is always a good thing to shut down a system during lightning. Even all wiring disconnected by over 8 feet will not help when your number is up. For people offgrid and remote, circuit protection that does something useful is a value even if it bonds earth to DC negative thru a 1 amp fuse and monitors via xanbus.

    As for the funny part, I would say that Xantrex was told to advertise this and it never happened....
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail offgridsolar@sti.net

  • BB.BB. Posts: 25,259Super Moderators admin
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV

    Here is another engineering based article about shielding against CME/EMP events.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • nsaspooknsaspook Posts: 396Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV
    BB. wrote: »

    Good information, the best offense is a good defense. (A very good ground system)
    I worked at a place once a long time ago that was completely EMP proof. Double Faraday cage with it's on internal power feed from a motor/generator and backup UPS set separated by a insulated power shaft to the generator inside the room. It was a doomsday TACAMO communications vault. It was also a good place to get some sleep while on watch.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TACAMO
  • RCinFLARCinFLA Posts: 1,280Solar Expert ✭✭
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV

    The primary issue with a CME is it induces a D.C. bias on the long distance power distribution lines which is bad for the distribution transformers. It can drive them into a magnetic offset saturation state where they cannot handle the existing A.C. loads and will eventually damage the distribution transformer. Knock out a large quantity of large substation transformers and there will not be enough standby replacements available. It can take upwards of six months to have new ones built from factory.

    The D.C. magnetic bias on the distribution transformer core is semi-permanent so the core is like a permanent magnet. The amount of DC core flux bias eats up the magnetic core flux swing available to A.C. reducing its power handling capability. When the core saturates, the current through the transformer spikes up damaging the transformer and puts large surges on the distribution network. It is a tricky un-routine process to degauss the transformer assuming the transformer's problem is recognized and shut down before the transformer self destructs.

    As to a grid tie inverter, hybrid or otherwise, it would have little effect on it. The local 240/120 v split phase transformer will eliminate any D.C. offset on the residential side secondary but there may be extra AC distortion left over from corruption of up stream waveform. If it bothers the inverter at all they will disconnect from grid. It would be like a generator with a distorted sinewave output that is so bad the hybrid grid tie inverter will not lock to it.
  • nsaspooknsaspook Posts: 396Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV

    Transformer saturation from CME events is another reason utilities are going HVDC for long transmission interties but even with DC lines you have the problem of commutation failures from excess current.

    The Pacific HVDC Intertie: We power LA.
    http://www.abb.com/industries/ap/db0003db004333/2a5cad2346b4378ec125774b002a16b6.aspx
  • nsaspooknsaspook Posts: 396Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV

    http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/SWN/index.html
    Geomagnetic K-index of 4 expected

    It's a low level event but solar activity is increasing.
  • techntrektechntrek Posts: 1,362Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV

    Its only a brief spike from a CME that occured a few days ago. Spikes of 3-4 happen all the time. http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/rt_plots/kp_3d.html
    4.5 kw APC UPS powered by a Prius, 12 kw Generac, Honda EU3000is
  • Peter_VPeter_V Posts: 213Solar Expert
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV
    topper wrote: »
    OK. There is the reply I was looking for. Grid connected people of the world. You're screwed unless you manually disconnect. Transfer switch or not, your system will fry. Or did I misunderstand?

    Kind of depends on where you live. From the research I've done the vulnerable locations (in the USA) are the northern states and along the coastlines. Central/southern states shouldn't see much if any effect. Plenty of power company stations up the line will disconnect the impulse before it reaches those of us in the south.

    I'm not worried, but If I lived in the north or along the coast, then I'd probably get a backup inverter and some batteries just in case.
  • nielniel Posts: 10,311Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV
    Peter_V wrote: »
    Kind of depends on where you live. From the research I've done the vulnerable locations (in the USA) are the northern states and along the coastlines. Central/southern states shouldn't see much if any effect. Plenty of power company stations up the line will disconnect the impulse before it reaches those of us in the south.

    I'm not worried, but If I lived in the north or along the coast, then I'd probably get a backup inverter and some batteries just in case.

    i disagree with it's a matter of where you are unless it is a case of you are on the other side of the world at the time of the event and the earth itself somewhat shielded you from it. now it would be as bb said unless you are miraculously spared damages because of a failure up the line on the grid making the smaller area of utility lines present in your area not as absorptive of the event. if not this then you must be in total isolation or take a big chance that the event won't do your gt connected stuff harm. most relays and switches will normally be engaged at the time of the event unless you disconnect. will it jump it even then? it may or may not depending on the energy of the event and how much reached you. the time of day, and to a point the season, will impact how much of the event hits you. this event will not be all that very different from the south to the north or the east to the west for mainland u s a as pretty much all utility lines will be hit from the sky and has nothing to do with populations or remoteness from coasts or population centers you are as it does not originate in those areas. bb is quite correct that it could jump breakers, fuses, and switches if powerful enough, but i think you stand a better chance of possibly being spared if physically pulling the fuse or shutting the switch or breaker off if you got enough warning of the event. also spd usage will further increase the odds and remember spds can be used on a service entrance breaker box too. if the spd is at your main cb box and the breaker is opened to the inverter you stand a much better chance of that energy being directed to ground and far less likely to jump the gaps to your inverter. plus if you have an spd on the output side of the inverter before the breaker it increases the odds there too on grounding out any energy leftover that may have still jumped the gap as some of that energy was already diffused to a point in the main cb box with an spd.

    to summarize this, it is true that odds are you could still be screwed, but there is not a guarantee that you are either and the more steps taken and the more isolated you're backup power setup is, the better your odds will be.

    about the only way to insure against all events would be to put the stuff into one of those metal shipping containers and bury it deep in the ground with no inputs or outputs going to and from it. i don't see any reasonable person going that far though.
  • techntrektechntrek Posts: 1,362Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV

    Speaking of a solar flare, there was a big one, nearly X-class, today. Anticipated direct strike to Earth tomorrow. http://www.spaceweather.com
    4.5 kw APC UPS powered by a Prius, 12 kw Generac, Honda EU3000is
  • Peter_VPeter_V Posts: 213Solar Expert
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV
    niel wrote: »
    i disagree with it's a matter of where you are unless it is a case of you are on the other side of the world at the time of the event and the earth itself somewhat shielded you from it. .

    What side of the planet you're on doesn't make ANY difference because the Earth's magnetic field causes the CME particals and resultant EMP to loop around and come in through the poles.

    What matters is how far you are from the poles. Salt water can carry the pulse over longer distances so coastal areas will be effected at further distances from the poles than inland areas. Since the pulse enters at the poles it doesn't matter which side of the planet is facing the sun when the CME hits.

    This is why we don't see the "Northern Lights" down here in Arizona and also why you don't see them even in the northern states unless it's a really large burst.

    http://news.discovery.com/space/impact-coronal-mass-ejection-hits-earth.html
    "Due to the magnetic configuration of our magnetosphere, the field lines enter the Earth's crust around the poles. These descending field lines funnel the solar protons from the CME into a "crown" surrounding the North and South Poles. This crown is known as the "auroral oval.""

    Attachment not found.
  • nielniel Posts: 10,311Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV

    peter,
    my point was that southern states will still be prone to a big event as i do not want anyone in southern states to feel they are protected from this. solar storms push our magnetic field that faces the sun inward toward the earth. i did acknowledge that there would not be huge differences between areas, but yes there are some differences. when it comes to texas being too far from say north dakota it isn't a big difference or the same as from the equator to the poles as the differences aren't as much as you think within the u s a, but differences they are.


    the rear would appear like a teardrop with a tail that extends far out and would add a bit of insulation for those on the backside of the earth, but you are correct here that even back there it is possible to get some of that energy. i also agree the poles get hit the hardest.

    the oceans will not cause coastal areas to be prone as that is like a giant ground for such an event for what hits the ocean will not be sent back out to go to coastal cities. it is another matter if we are talking of an event making its way through a coastal area to get to the ocean as you'd have to be in a faraday cage then.
  • sepsolman411sepsolman411 Posts: 16Registered Users
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV

    Would solar flares temporarily increase voltage and amperage for either mono- or poly-chrystalline cell modules?
    niel wrote: »
    peter,
    my point was that southern states will still be prone to a big event as i do not want anyone in southern states to feel they are protected from this. solar storms push our magnetic field that faces the sun inward toward the earth. i did acknowledge that there would not be huge differences between areas, but yes there are some differences. when it comes to texas being too far from say north dakota it isn't a big difference or the same as from the equator to the poles as the differences aren't as much as you think within the u s a, but differences they are.


    the rear would appear like a teardrop with a tail that extends far out and would add a bit of insulation for those on the backside of the earth, but you are correct here that even back there it is possible to get some of that energy. i also agree the poles get hit the hardest.

    the oceans will not cause coastal areas to be prone as that is like a giant ground for such an event for what hits the ocean will not be sent back out to go to coastal cities. it is another matter if we are talking of an event making its way through a coastal area to get to the ocean as you'd have to be in a faraday cage then.
  • BB.BB. Posts: 25,259Super Moderators admin
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV

    Solar Flares / CME's are very low frequency events and need antennas with lengths on the order of miles and 10's of miles to "receive" any power from a CME.

    However, if you want to reduce the chances even more (and better protect against lightning--a more likely event that can cause damage), make sure your wires are run in "pairs" or bundles. If you take long loopy paths with +/- (and other AC wiring)--They act like antenna for both receiving energy (lightning/EMP electro magnetic pulses) and transmitting (Radio Frequency Interference). If you have excess wire, wrap it in figure "8" patterns, not "O" shaped loops (again antenna--an "8" has both a positive and negative field polarity in the two loops-which serve to cancel each other out).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • SteveKSteveK Posts: 277Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV

    Looks like we have a major one coming tonight?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-200952/Power-cuts-threat-sun-storm-hits-earth.html
  • westbranchwestbranch Posts: 4,260Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV

    HMm tat one says X18 this one says X5 CME http://www.spaceweather.com/

    ?? that seems to be a large variation... still it happened
     
     KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
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  • westbranchwestbranch Posts: 4,260Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV

    here is a link to a prepper site with a Spectacular image just into the second page, enjoy

    http://solarstormwarning.com/
     
     KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL29032 FW 2079/ 2073/ 2054 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,Omnicharge 3024,
    Linksys Wet54g WiFi Bridge, ASUS RTN10 router, Hughes1100 Sat Modem
    Eu3000i & 1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL 647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada





  • nielniel Posts: 10,311Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: the " big solar flare" and PV

    well, it initially hit about 6am et and we're still here with no problems up until now. true, it isn't over yet, but indications are that it was overblown in it's intensity even though it was still 10x stronger than most flares on average.

    http://news.yahoo.com/biggest-solar-storm-years-hits-far-good-162342753.html
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