Strong Rooftop Solar PV Systems Through the Storm
How Three Project Site Installations Withstood a Tropical Cyclone
Back in 2016, Health Centrum Hospital had signed with Buskowitz Energy to power its facilities with a 99.90 kilowatt-peak rooftop solar PV system. The medical complex located in Roxas city, opted for a renewable energy source to experience solar savings, a negative carbon footprint, and positive operational impacts on the environment. In the same year, the University of Iloilo also switched on their 99.90 kilowatt-peak solar installation located in the city. The system powered the school’s daily operations and also helped instill “green” and sustainable values in their students.
In Photo: Health Centrum Hospital
Though located in different areas of Visayas, during the Christmas season of 2019 both project sites were faced with an unforeseen natural disaster–Tyhoon Ursula. With a maximum wind speed of 100 kilometers per hour, this badly affected the region. According to CNN Philippines\, “Ursula left trails of destruction on its path particularly in southern Luzon and Eastern Visayas as evidenced by fallen trees, electrical posts which triggered power outages, and damaged an airport.” Despite the storm and strong winds of Typhoon Ursula, the rooftop solar PV installation on both properties remained intact.
In Photo: University of IloIlo
In another case, located in the heart of Pangasinan, the 1.1 megawatt installation on the lifestyle and commercial development, San Carlos Town Center, was able to withstand the impact of Typhoon Ompong in 2018. With a wind speed of 205 kilometers per hour and gust speed of 255 kilometers per hour, the typhoon was said to be the strongest tropical storm since Typhoon Yolanda. Fortunately, despite the cyclone’s disastrous impact, the team at San Carlos Town Center were surprised to see that the roof under the solar system was left unscathed, whereas other exposed roofing on the complex was peeled off due to the strong winds of Typhoon Ompong.
In Photo: San Carlos Town Center
Built to withstand a wind load of 80 miles per second or 280 kilometers per hour, both installations used a special Roof PV Mounting System. Mibet Energy has created a modular patented racking design, which allows for a stable and strong connection between the roof support structure and solar modules. In addition, the high quality racking was made even more durable by Buskowitz Energy on all the project sites. The systems were ballasted by concrete blocks for a higher stability against strong winds.
However, what really made these systems built to withstand the storm are the thorough standards and processes that Buskowitz executes during the planning and installation phase:
Buskowitz conducts a physical inspection and structural analysis to ensure that the roof area or installation site is capable of handling the desired system size. Afterwards, the ideal locations are identified to install the panels–where roof orientation, obstructions, and shading issues are taken into consideration.
Prior to any installation works, a roof inspection is conducted together with the client and the Buskowitz Energy Project Management Team. During the inspection, any visible defects, leak issues or concerns shall be identified and addressed–from changing of old electrical wires to fortifying or replacing old roofing, among others.
Upon installation, avoiding leakage is always important for a sturdy system and roof. To ensure a leak-free project site, the L-feet equipment is provided with roof sealant. The L-feet are installed to act as a foundation and to fortify the installation rails. At least 4 L-feet will be fastened by a specially provided connector bolt and nut from L-feet to rail. Before installing the panels, all rails will be leveled by the use of strings to ensure a perfect flat framing for the solar panels.
Each L-feet comes with a 1 mm rubber placed between the L-feet and thermoplastic roof. This not only prevents leakage, but also avoids surface contact between aluminum and galvanized iron–thus galvanic reactions between two dissimilar metals are prevented. Finally, the L-feet must be properly sealed with roof sealant to avoid possible leakage. All roof penetrations should be sealed with an acceptable sealing method that does not impact the roof warranty of the business owner.
The Buskowitz Maintenance Team recommends doing a quarterly check-up of the physical installation to ensure both the health and durability of the solar system.