Nowadays the so called green energy has a more and more serious role in the energy supply and the related energy production. A great example for such systems is the application of wind turbines, the exploitation of geothermal energy, as well as the manufacturing and utilization of solar panels. Energy production with solar panels has been increasingly popular in the past years, since the manufacturing costs of solar panels keep decreasing thanks to technological improvements, therefore producing energy using them is much cheaper than used to be. Formerly the production costs of solar panels were much higher, so it had a hard time keeping up with well proven energy production methods.
Solar panels are typically placed on rooftops and large open areas, therefore they are in significant danger of getting struck by lightning, and that’s why in their case the construction of an appropriate lightning protection system is imperative. For primary lightning protection, in case of solar panels, some aspects appear that, in normal case, are not so significant or not to be considered at all. One of the most important of these aspects is the shading effect of the lightning rods. If a lightning rod casts a shadow on a solar panel, it could easily lead to the malfunctioning of the panel, not to mention the economical costs resulting from the decrease of the energy production.
The secondary lightning protection also has some elements concerning the solar panels, which should be considered. It should be taken into account that solar panels have an alternating current output, but at the same time they have a direct current input, therefore the selection and application of the appropriate overvoltage protection devices is important.
The goal of this document is to review the essential knowlede, which is necessary to design the full lightning protection system of a solar park, and to present the unique phenomena which have to be taken into account in case of solar panels. Finally, the construction of such lightning protection systems will be illustrated with an example.