Solar farms show resilience during hurricanes, severe weather

Solar farms are built to withstand dangerous conditions, like high winds and substantial rain.

 

Orangeburg, S.C. (WOLO) — Solar farms are growing in South Carolina, because of its sustainability. Whenever the sun is shining, they are generating power. But the sun doesn’t always shine, like during severe weather.

Solar farms are built to withstand dangerous conditions, like high winds and substantial rain.

“Looking at our commercial industrial, and our utility scale solar projects, such as Jamison, conservatively we have over 35,000 solar modules in operation. Over the past three years, we’ve had two modules we had to go out and fix,” said Jarrett Branham, the VP of Operations and Director of Construction with Alder Energy Systems.

Although there’s no power from the sun during a storm, it’s right after when the resilience of solar panels shows.

“After Hurricane Dorian, our three utility scale solar projects, they were up and running. They were ready to go. It was nice weather afterwards, and they were producing energy right away,” said Nicole Aiello, spokesperson with Santee Cooper.

If a home is using solar power, like from Orangeburg’s Jamison Solar Farm, there will still be power even after the sun has set.

“Typically, a residential solar project, where you have solar panels on your home, you’re also still working and tied into the utilities grid,” said Branham.

When there’s rough weather, the farms are monitored.

“We know the projects are built safely, we know the projects are built to withstand the weather that’s coming, so we just sit back and monitor and make sure we know when something is going wrong. And we act accordingly,” said Branham.

The solar panels at Jamison can withstand winds up to 99 mph. And by the coast, solar panels can withstand winds in excess of 130 mph.

“As soon as the storm is gone, renewable projects are operational. They rarely go down. The resiliency is there for renewable projects,” said Branham.

As renewable projects and clean energy grows in the state, so do the efforts to maximize the sun’s power.

“We currently have 160 megawatts of solar online or under contract, and we’re going to be adding to that. More than 500% more. So we’re going to be adding over 1,000 megawatts of solar,” said Aiello. “So when the sun’s not shining, then you can’t get power, but if we can work on getting that battery storage and you can store that energy and you can use it any time of day.”

Bonnie Loomis, the Executive Director of the South Carolina Clean Energy Business Alliance, sent a statement that reads:

Both Alder Energy and Santee Cooper are members of the SC Clean Energy Business Alliance (SCCEBA), a non-profit trade group pushing for the growth of clean energy in South Carolina.
SCCEBA is working to encourage more development just like the Jamison project because it is a great example of clean energy being used to ‘harden’ the utility grid for resiliency during storm events.
SCCEBA is also encouraging solar plus battery storage, like that recently proposed by Santee Cooper, because this particular combination of clean energy technology allows customers, like manufacturers or health care facilities, to designate “critical loads” and be able to feed those critical loads during utility outages.
If you want to learn more about how clean energy can help during weather events, check out sccleanenergyconference.org for details on SCCEBA’s upcoming clean energy conference where energy resilience will be a topic.

Categories: Local News, News, State