With cold weather blasting in early this year, images of snowdrifts and downed power lines are in the news. If you are in charge of remote field operations, scenarios like this cause concern about the reliability of your assets, especially when access to the sites is blocked by the storm’s aftermath.
How reliable is solar power in sub-zero temperatures, snow, and ice? The answer is that if a system is sized precisely, with the appropriate components, to compensate for cold temperatures, shorter days, and periods of little or no sun, it will carry the load all winter without a hitch. That’s good news for difficult-to-reach locations because a downed system is expensive and can leave assets cut off from control centers.
What factors must be considered for a robust winter system?
Site Location, Winter Sun Hours, Solar Array, and Battery Bank
When sizing a solar power system for cold regions, the winter sun hour rating for the location is absolutely critical. Never accept a system that has been sized based on the average annual sun hours because it will eventually fail during the long cold winter. The lower the sun hour rating for the location, the more solar panels and batteries are needed to collect and store energy when sunlight is weak and days are short.