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711LidgerwoodAvenue

Elizabeth,NJ072070711USA
19089258000
180052ALPHA
www.alphawire.com

SelectingWireandCablefor
SolarApplications KristenBerard
ApplicationsEngineer
AlphaWire

IntroductiontoSolarPower ontheotherhand,generallyusethousandsofflat
suntrackingmirrorscalledheliostatsto
Onabright,sunnyday,thesunsraysgiveoff concentratethesunsradiationontoasingle
approximately1000wattsofenergypersquare towermountedreceiver,atwhichpointsame
meteroftheEarthssurface.Thissolarpowercan processastheparabolictroughisapplied.Thelast
beconvertedintoelectricityintwobasicways:(1) typeofaforementionedCSPtechnologiesisthe
thesunlightcanbeconverteddirectlyusing solarengine,whichcontainsbothasolar
photovoltaics(PV)or(2)itcanbeconverted concentratorandapowerconversionunit.The
indirectlyusingconcentratingsolarpower(CSP). mostpopularexampleofasolarengineisthe
Stirlingengine,whichusesasuntrackingmirrored
Photovoltaicreferstothedirectgenerationof parabolicdishtodirectcapturedheattoa
electricitybysolarirradiation.Photovoltaiccells hydrogengasfilledpiston.Thepistonthendrives
usespecialsemiconductormaterials,themost theenginetoproduceelectricity.Overatwenty
commonbeingsilicon,toharnesssolarenergy. yearperiod,aStirlingenginesystemcangenerate
Whenlightstrikesthecell,someofthesolar over850MWofelectricity.
irradiationisabsorbedwithinthesemiconductor
material.Theenergyofthelightisnowtransferred Althoughthesunisanexcellentenergysource
tothesemiconductor,knockingelectronsloose duringtheday,themethodinwhichsolarenergyis
andallowingthemtoflowfreelyandrelease storediscriticalduetothelackofcontinuous
energy. supply.Aneffectiveandlowcostwayofstoring
solarpowerisemployingtheuseofmoltensalts.
CSPtechnologiesusemirrorstoreflectand Saltshaveahighspecificheatcapacityandcan
concentratesunlightontoreceiversthatthen deliverheatattemperaturescompatiblewith
collectthesolarenergybeforeconvertingitto conventionalpowersystems.OffgridPVsystems
heat.Theresultingthermalenergyisthenusedto traditionallystoreexcessenergywithrechargeable
produceelectricitythroughasteamturbineor batteries.Withgridtiedsystems,theexcess
heatenginethatdrivesagenerator. electricitycanbesenttothetransmissiongridand
Currently,threecommontypesofCSP kepttrackofusingnetmeteringprograms.Net
technologiesexist:aparabolictrough,asolar meteringprogramsgivesuchsystemsacreditfor
powertower,andasolarengine.Aparabolic eachmegawattofelectricitydeliveredtothegrid.
troughisshapedlikeahalfpipeandiscovered Thesecreditsoffsetelectricityprovidedfromthe
withmirrorsthatarealignednorthsouthandpivot gridwhenthesystemcannotmeetdemand,
tofollowthesunduringdaylight.Thesemirrors effectivelyusingthegridasastoragemechanism.
concentratethesunsraysontoheattransferfluid CableRequirements
pipesat30to100timestheirnormalintensity.The
pipesarethenusedtoproducesteamtospina Despitebeingacriticalcomponent,wiringforsolar
turbinetopoweragenerator.Solarpowertowers, panelsisrarelydiscussed.Inhomesolarpower

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Serviceyoudeserve.
711LidgerwoodAvenue
Elizabeth,NJ072070711USA
19089258000
180052ALPHA
www.alphawire.com

systems,therearefourcomponentstoconnect ULhastwotypesofapprovalsforphotovoltaic
together:thesolarpanels,thechargecontroller, applications:USE2andtypePV.Originally,the
thebatteries,andtheinverter.Thecharge standardapprovalforphotovoltaicapplications
controllerisusedtopreventthebatteriesfrom wasUSE2.However,oncetherewasagreater
overloading;thewiresthatconnectthepanelto demandforwireforsolarpower,ULdesignedthe
thechargecontrolledshouldbecorrectlysizedto ULtypePVapprovaltomeettheneedsofsuch
minimizetransmissionpowerloss. applicationsbetter.USE2andtypePVapprovals
Correspondingly,thefurtherawaythepanelsare, aresimilar;however,thereareafewdifferences.
thelargerthewiregaugeshouldbe.Theinverteris PVwirecanbeusedinbothgroundedand
usedtoconverttheDCpowercollectedbythe ungroundedPVarraysandisrated+90oCwetand
panelsintoACpower,whichisthemostpopular +150oCdrywithapprovalsfor600V,1000V,and
formofelectricityacceptedbyappliances.These 2000V.AlthoughUSE2isonlysuitablefor
systemsaretypicallyoutdoors,soanycableused groundedPVarraysperNEC,ithasa+90oCwet
forthistypeofapplicationneedstobeultraviolet anddryratingandisonlyratedfor600V.In
radiationresistantandsuitableforwetlocations. additiontothebettertemperatureandvoltage
Forsolartrackingpanels,thecablesusedneedto range,typePVwireshavebettersunlight
beflexibleasthepanelswillbemovingalongwith resistance,lowtemperatureflexibility,flame
thesun. resistance,andthickerinsulationsforadditional
elementprotection.
CSPsystemshavealotofrequirementssimilarto
solarpanel.However,inadditiontothewaterand TVsPfg1169approvalisbasedonISO4892,
UVresistance,thecablesusedneedtobeableto EN50395,andEN50396standardsandtested
withstandhightemperatures. accordingtoIEC60811standards.TheTV
approvedwireisalsogenerallylowsmoke,zero
StandardsforSolarPowerCable halogen,makingitmoreenvironmentallyfriendly.
Thisapprovaliswrittenspecificallyforthe
BoththeUnitedStatesbasedagencyUnderwriters
Europeanmarketandisthepreferredapprovalfor
Laboratory(UL)andtheGermanbasedagency
manufacturersofsolarpanels.
TechnischerberwachungsVerein(TV)have
approvalsspecificallyforwiresusedin
photovoltaicapplications.

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