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Photovoltaic installations are key sources of renewable energy across the world and are increasing both in terms of size and number. The installations have a number of challenges which arise from their exposed nature and vast collection areas. The unique nature of the PV installations makes them vulnerable to overvoltage surges from lightning strikes and static discharges. The core challenge is protecting these installations against direct and indirect lightning strikes which present a high risk of causing damage.

The effects of direct or indirect lightning strike making it into the electrical system can be catastrophic. If significant damage is caused to the installation then the operator is faced with high repair costs to the equipment and a loss of revenue as a result of the loss of output. As a result of this, it is essential that the surges are intercepted before they take down the entire system by damaging the PV arrays, charge controller/inverter and combiner boxes. To ensure full system protection against the propagation of overvoltage surges throughout the PV installation it is important to select the correct Surge Protection Device (SPD) for each part of the system in the DC, AC and data-line networks.

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