20 | 11 | 2017

CONNECTING ISLAND INNOVATIONS

GREEN PV SAFETY COVER SYSTEM

1) Figure 1: green darkening screen in closed position

In Figure 1 you can see that the G-SCS consists of an adaptable eco-suitable“green”darkening screen which cover the PV panel disconnecting the downstream electrical line.
The adaptable darkening screen is realized by a combination of vegetable and mineral (natural) fibers and should be both water resistant and fire resistant. The combination of materials used is new and never tested. Experimental tests are in progress in order to verify the characteristics of the darkening screen (realized by combination of vegetable and mineral fibers) and to optimize its efficiency regarding the water and fire resistance.
In addition, both the support materials and the drapes of the photovoltaic cells and their operating system have peculiar characteristics allowing to avoid the entry of water (i.e. have adequate degree of protection IP) and to limit the spread of fire (fire-resistant elements EI) eventually generated in the electrical contacts of the panel.

General information:

Island (Region, Province, Country): Sicily, Palermo, Italy

Population: at 31 December 2015: the resident population of Sicily is 5.074.261

Budget / cost of the project:

The proposed project will be developed in three years with a total cost of around of 50.000,0 €. This cost will be ditributed as follows: the actions performed during the first 2 years will cost 25.000,0 €; the actions performed during the third year will cost 25.000,0 €. In fact, the proposed project aims to realize and to test a device, that is called “Green-Safety Cover System – (here on indicated by the abbreviation G-SCS), which allows to improve the PV panel performance guaranting its safety and durability. Thus, the first two years will be devoted to the prototype realization and the testing procedure. The first phase (i.e. prototype realization) includes: 1) the identification of a new green material covering the PV panel; 2) the assembly of all the parties of the G-SCS system; 3) the prototype realization. The second phase (i.e. testing procedure) includes: 1) the prototype testing and 2) the dentification of patent requirements. During the third year the actions will be devoted to: 1) the development of procedures to obtain the prototype certification; 2) diffusion and marketing.

Project objectives:

The proposed “Green PV Safety Cover System” (G-SCS) is a multifunctioning device system for the photovoltaic systems (PV) allowing us to guarantee: i) the safety conditions for workers and/or operators both during interventions of normal use (maintenance) and during emergency condition (fire, etc.); ii) the cleaning of the PV panel without the activation of external procedures; iii) the reduction of insulation of the back of the PV panel. In fact, the permanence of continuous voltage along the stretch-line included between the inverter and the panel is still a problem that has not found definitive solution since today. Actually, release buttons are generally inserted just downstream of the inverters in order to guarantee the safety of the photovoltaic system. But, although these release buttons allow to limit the voltage, the electrical conduits which connect the panels to the inverter remain constantly fed during daylight hours so that continuous voltage (often exceeding even 800 Volts) could occur. Thus the G-SCS solves the aforementioned problem determining the total elimination of voltage along the line downstream of the PV panel. But also G-SCS presents other advantages at the same time: it not only guarantees the safety of the PV panel but also it solves the problem of the PV panel cleaning, it guarantees high duration of the PV panel allowing its preservation during the hours when it does not produces (low-light conditions) and avoiding the overheating of the back of the PV panel. Furthermore, the G-SCS is cheap and easy to be mounted over the PV-panel and its encumbrance is comparable with the thickness of the PV panel.

2) Figure 2: Exploded parts of G-SCS

In Figure 2 the parts of the proposed G-SCS can be visualized. These parties are described in the legend. As it can be seen, the present G-SCS is equipped with a mechanical system, which is also remote controlled, having the purpose of materially obscure the photovoltaic panel so that the irradiation generated on the same panel is reduced and the generated voltage is limited until to reach values virtually equal to zero.

Project description of activities and specific interventions: The project will be developed in three years. The activities will be distributed as follows:
1)First year:
During this year experimental tests for the new natural darkening screen of the G-SCS will be con-ducted. The tests will be devoted to identify the materials (vegetal fibers, glass fibers, mineral com-ponents, vegetable issues of new conception, academic institutions), the combinations of fibers; their behavior for the darkening and water and fire resistances.
2)Second Year:
This year will be devoted to the realization of the prototype of the G-SCS and its preliminary test-ing. First, the mechanical-electrical parts of the G-SCS will be bought and assembled. Then, the new natural darkening screen (tested during the first year) will be combined with the mechanical-electrical parts so as to define the G-SCS prototype
3)Third year
The third year will be devoted:
– the certification of the new natural, eco-sustainable darkening screen will be conducted with the help of a legal Institution for certification.
– the obtainment of the patents both for the new natural darkening screen and for the combined G-SCS system.
– to the diffusion of the system and marketing: organization of seminars, international congresses, publications in Journals. Web-site realization. video realizations, slogans.

The realization of G-SCS includes: design and planning, manufacturing, transportation, installation, integration with the infrastructure, operation and maintenance. These stages involve different groups of workers in various types and categories of work in various fields. G-SCS presents a new business fitting the criteria of green chemistry regarding the materials of the darkening screen (realized by combination of vegetable and mineral fibers).
Thus, the following specialized technical personnel will be involved in the project:
1. Expert for fire safety: fire behavior of materials used in terms of fire resistance is the reaction to fire; 2. electrical engineering for the technology systems of PV; 3. expert in technologies of materi-als. Knowledge of Green and sustainable materials; 4. expert in automation engineering for the building automation design of the drive device control and block

Public outreach, education and awareness efforts and results:

Solar technologies are extremely promising with ever-increasing output efficiency and the capability to be used especially in low resource countries.
In fact, most low resources countries are geographically located for optimal absorption of the sun’s rays. Thus PV systems are perfect for maximizing the potential of energy production in these locations where there is a great amount of sunlight year-round, but a shortage of water and biomass.
The project G-SCS will further improve the application of PV installation because by using a composition of natural materials (fibers of the darkening screen) and cheap components it makes the PV panel:
a) More safe: for workers and population because it limits the fire and electric risks and the propagation of hazardous substances
b) More lasting: in fact, on one hand the G-SCS avoid the over-heating of the PV panel, on the other hand it allows the cleaning of the PV panel
c) More efficient: in fact the easy cleaning of the PV panel increases its efficiency
Furthermore the use of natural and eco-sustainably material allows to reduce the disposal of materials at the end of the plant life
These aspects are especially important for the developing countries where high temperatures occur and it is particularly important the use of natural energy resources.
In developed countries the aforementioned could be easily obtained taking into account that legislation is devoted to solve the problem of safety conditions for man and environment and to increase the production of sustainable energy. Several EU projects have been developed in this field in order to investigate the phenomenon and the safety measures for the operators.
The health and safety of workers are crucial but many risks (hazardous substances, electrical hazards and fire) can have a strong impact on workers (during the realization, installation and functioning of the system). When constructing a PV panel system is thus important to consider, starting from the design, safety and health for workers and environment.
G-SCS has definitely an added value to community because it allows to produce clean energy also ensuring a high standard of safety to man and the environment in which the system is installed.

3) Figura 3: Operating G-SCS P: a) opened screen during normal daylight functioning; b) closed screen during an emergency action

In this figure the effect of the G-SCS system can be observed. In fact, during normal functioning of the PV panel the screen is opened (figure 3a) and the measured voltage along the line between is PV and the inverter is not null. During an emergency operation, the screen is closed and the measured voltage is zero.

Economic value added and how calculated:

The Economic value added can be identified as follows:
– Increasing the safety of PV installations could stimulate manufacturers of solar panels to realize systems allowing the limitation the incidental phenomena. Today the market offers certified panels with the aid of the IEC standards, but the eventual development of a fire requires today that the panel is at least even with appropriate certification of “Reaction to Fire”. This could be guaranteed by the proposed G-SCS. Increasing the PV installations determines a significant tax advantages in terms of income tax deduction.
-Solar power can benefit from less electric expense over time.
– The G-SCS could have wide application both in large PV systems and in domestic-type ones.
– The G-SCS allows to reduce the costs for insurance of the installation
– The G-SCS extends the life-time of the PV panel and thus amortize the expenses
Furthermore the G-SCS system presents the followin technological and economic sustainability:
– the G-SCS system is realized by the combination of elementary mechanical systems and electro-mechanical devices which are easy to find in the market, certified, efficient and have low cost. Over long time the cost further reduces
– The technological improvement of G-SCS is represented both by the new material tested for the darkening screen and by the combination of different devices included.

On the basis of production costs the G-SCS determines a prize of around 20% (i.e. 0.12 €/Wp) over the mean prize of a high performance PV panel. This over-prize is easily ammortized in time by the aforementioned advantages.

Ecological and social project outcomes:

The following ecological and social outcomes of the proposed project can be highlighted:
Over short term:
• the reduction of the probability of occurrence of fire events of the PV panel and the consequent propagation to the rest of the activity when it is installed;
• the compartmentation of a possible fire occurring inside the panel;
• the safety of workers
• the reduction of the emission in the environment of hazardous chemicals substances (such as CO2, boron, cadmium tellurium, gallium arsenide, phosphorus) due to the possible fire accident (fire exposure, or explosion). Some of these products are known because they can induce toxicological problems or cause damage to the environment.
• the reduction of the inhalation by workers of hazardous chemicals substances (such as CO2, boron, cadmium tellurium, gallium arsenide, phosphorus) during the risk event
• reduction of accidents of the inspection staff and maintenance (cleaning and maintenance on the electrical work)
Over long term
• increase the life of the PV system, safeguarding it from the elements when necessary or in the hours of unproductive;
increase energy efficiency thanks to the periodic sweeping of the panel surface. In fact, the cover is equipped with bristles on the end of a string is the mobile, capable of removing dust and foliage (frequently causes of the phenomenon of the hot spot that is one of the main sources of fire); that regulate activation and programmable will also help to maintain active working mechanisms, so as to reduce risks of malfunction that may be caused by the non-usage.
Furthermore, the G-SCS presents the follwing Environment sustainability:1) it provides a more suitable use of natural resources (vegetal and mineral fibers);2) it is especially realized with recyclable materials ; 3) it reduces the emission in the environment of hazardous chemicals substances which can induce toxicological problems or cause damage to the environment. In fact, the darkening screen, realized by a combination of vegetable and mineral (natural) fibers, avoids the possible propagation of smoke and flames heat.

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