Ecological concerns are catalyzing the adoption and use of solar power in a variety of environments – from rooftop solar systems to large-scale distribution plants. Eco-friendly and inexpensive, the solar energy is efficiently addressing environmental concerns by generating non-polluting electricity. The recent developments in solar technology include safe and reliable solar power cables used in the generation and transmission of power. These cabling solutions are designed for improving efficiency and reducing cost while ensuring reliable performance and durability. Solar installations and photovoltaic panels are driving innovation in solar cable technology and new standards are being established for robust and safe designing of solar power cables.
Emerging Trends for Power Cables in Solar Applications
Solar energy systems offer considerable benefits for the environment as compared to conventional sources of energy. However, generating solar energy from renewable sources requires a robust cabling system that is designed to maximize energy-efficiency and minimize the risk and losses. This enables optimum generation of power that can reach the respective substations for timely transmission to the grid. Cables used for solar power generation must offer a much higher voltage range as compared to the standard rating of 600V used in conventional applications. Solar power cables to be used between substations and transformers should be developed to incorporate improved resistance to UV rays and ozone while ensuring lower line loss and cooler operations.
Engineered to serve a high voltage range of up to 2000V, solar power cables are subjected to long-term sunlight exposure. The end-use of solar power cables is very different from the power cables used in wind and thermal generation. In order to ensure safety, reliability, flexibility and performance even in sub-zero conditions, solar cables must be resistant to water absorption and deformation under extreme installation conditions.
Keeping all these factors in mind, special solar power cables have been engineered to ensure complete reliability and safety. These cables are specifically designed to facilitate fast and easy connections in utilities and large-scale power generation plants. Cables that simplify the installation process and eliminate inconsistencies that arise in field terminations are also being designed. Feeder cables that are used for connecting inverters with combiner boxes are now available as an all-in-one solution that does not need a conduit. PV power cables also come in different color codes to facilitate easy identification of output, source, and circuits, thus eliminating the need to tag cables.
Key Challenges in the Development of Solar Power Cables
Despite the fact that solar technology has a promising future and given the recent developments in solar power cables, this emerging trend is not without challenges. Standards, regulations, and codes make it difficult for manufacturers to keep pace with new and emerging technologies. Supporting the long-term needs of solar power plants with application-specific cables that are certified is another ongoing challenge for manufacturers.
The manufacturers of solar power cables need to strike a perfect balance between durability and up-front cost while ensuring compliance with industry trends and safety requirements. From designing cables for innovative micro inverters to meeting stringent electrical code standards and fire ratings, manufacturers need to make some significant R&D efforts on every front. Manufacturers must be committed to developing fire-resistant, halogen-free, and corrosion resistant cables that ensure long-lasting performance and incorporate the reliability required to support the long-standing needs of solar applications.
About the Author: Jeson Pitt loves to marry his marketing and blogging skills. Working for the bulk buyers of Electrical Materials, Jeson loves to channelize his thoughts into words, which has helped him establish his image as a blogger. He’s got the industry insights that you can count on.