FIREFIGHTER SOLAR POWER SAFETY AWARENESS TRAINING

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FIREFIGHTER SOLAR POWER
SAFETY AWARENESS TRAINING
WHAT WE’LL COVER TONIGHT
1- What is Solar Power ?
2- Why are people using it ?
3- - How does the technology work ?
4 – Building construction & weight bearing capabilities.
5- Fire ground electrical hazards.
6-Emergency Response
Solar Panels are Everywhere !!!
WHAT IS SOLAR POWER?
• Solar energy is the most abundant and important
source of energy on the planet. Solar energy is a
renewable source of energy because it cannot be used
up. When the sun's energy reaches the Earth's
atmosphere, it is converted into heat which powers
photosynthesis and spurs many of the Earth's natural
processes. Solar energy is the force responsible for the
wind, which powers the rain cycle which keeps
replenishes water sources around the world.
• It can be used three main ways…
• Passive Solar, Solar thermal & Photovoltaic's.
PASSIVE SOLAR
• Capturing the suns energy in building design
and construction ( windows, skylights etc. )
SOLAR THERMAL
• Sunlight converted to heat, usually to heat
pools, but sometimes to heat homes through
glycol mixture. Can be passive or active
dependent on whether or not they have
circulating pumps.
• Danger to firefighters, tripping, slipping,
structural collapse due to extra weight, flame
spread, inhalation or hot fluid scalds.
SOLAR THERMAL PANELS
• Because these panels have various kinds of
liquids circulating through them , a storage
tank is often stored in the rafters as well as
piping & wiring.
• Caution should be exercised in regard to
ventilation. Gable ends & natural vent
openings is a more prudent option for vertical
venting.
SOLAR THERMAL PANELS CONT.
•
•
•
•
Do not walk or stand on panels.
Do not place ladders on panels.
Do not attempt to break panels.
Attempting to disconnect panels from one &
other may cause an arc fault.
• Only natural sunlight & lightning energize the
panels. Artificial lighting ,such as fire dept.
scene lighting do not!
PHOTOVOLTAICS
• CONVERTING LIGHT INTO ELECTRICITY AS
INDICATED IN THE ROOT WORDS..,
• Photo meaning “light”
• Voltaic meaning “electricity”
• No moving parts or fluids, consumes no
materials, utilizes solid state technology.
• Completely self contained.
PHOTOVOLTAICS CONT.
• The process of converting energy in the form of
light from the sun to usable electrical current.
• Sunlight converted to electricity, electrical energy.
• Danger to firefighters include electrical shock,
trip, slip, fall, flame spread, inhalation exposure,
structural collapse due to extra weight, hazardous
emissions from combustion, battery storage
• Use same precautions as solar thermal panels.
People using
photovoltaic solar
panels are either
using the electricity
themselves or selling
it to the local hydro
company and putting
the power back into
the power grid.
HOW
DOES
THE
NEW
TECHNOLOGY
WORK ?
A solar cell accepts energy from the
sun & converts it into electricity.
Silicon is used & each cell generates
0.5 volts
• A “module "or panel
contains 50 to 72 cells.
The standard is 3 X 5 ft.
each produces 20 to 40
volts. These are encased
in glass & aluminum &
weigh 30 to 50 lbs.
• When one or more of
these modules are
stringed together, they
form an “array”. These
are wired in a series to
increase voltage. A 20
panel array can produce
4000 watts & weigh 2.5
lbs per square foot.
INVERTERS
An inverter is used to convert the power generated by the PV module
from direct current (dc) to alternating current (ac) so that the electricity
can be used by the consumer or directed in to the utility grid.
Inverters come in a variety of sizes and styles:
Micro-inverters: A single inverter that is next to or built into
the individual PV modules. The micro-inverter converts the
dc power at the module rather than at a single large inverter serving
many modules.
System inverters: System inverters receive current and voltage from
many strings or arrays. This type of inverter can be located on
the roof near the array or inside the building in a location such as
a utility room.
Inverters contain capacitors which store energy. Once de-energized,
the capacitors begin to discharge their stored energy. However, they
may be capable of electric shock until their voltage has diminished.
INVERTERS CONT.
• It is important to note that shutting off the
inverter only shuts off power to what it is
supplying, either the structure or the power
grid. The panels connected to the inverter will
be “live’ if natural sunlight or lightning is
present!
• Remember! Some inverters have capacitors.
• Be aware of possible arc fault.
WHAT IS AN ARC FAULT?…
• An arc fault is a fault in the high voltage wiring
of a PV system that can cause a high energy
discharge that can potentially trigger a fire in
the presence of combustible material. It is
similar to the small flash you see when you
unplug your toaster or electric kettle.
Batteries
• Batteries are used store
electricity produced by the
solar panels for personal
use or for a blackout. A
homeowner can’t use
solar power & put it into
the grid at the same time.
These batteries are usually
located in the basement or
utility room.
BATTERIES - DANGERS
• Burning plastic.
• Leaking / burning acid
• Emission of hydrogen (lighter than air) &
hydrogen sulphide (heavier than air). Both
highly flammable & explosive, no spark
producing equipment in this area!
• Battery rooms in homes are not necessarily
properly ventilated/ explosive gases may be
present from charging state.
BATTERIES - DANGERS
• To control battery fires…
• Dry chemical extinguisher, Co2 or foam applicants
if area is on fire.
• Ensure proper ventilation.
• Full PPE.
• Be aware of possibility of acid solutions & check
PPE for exposures, rinse off with water & check
PPE, replace if needed.
• This could end up being a hazardous materials
incident.
Important Note
Never cut into batteries under any circumstances! Even
though the voltage generating PV system may be
disconnected from the battery bank, the batteries
themselves still have potential for electrical shock. If the
battery is punctured by a conductive object, assume that
the object may be charged.
BUILDING CONSTRUCTION
AND
WEIGHT BEARING
CONCIDERATIONS
THINGS TO CONCIDER…
-Solar panels weigh 2.5 lbs per square ft.
- 20 x 50 ft roof would bear 2500 lbs if
roof totally covered with solar panels.
-What type building construction ?
-Are you dealing with engineered truss?
-Any other loads involved, snow, AC unit?
-How long has the roof been exposed to
heat and flame?
- Time of year, freezing temps & ice !
FIRE GROUND ELECTRICAL HAZARDS
• NFPA states… “ The inability to de-energize
individual PV panels exposed to sunlight cannot
be overemphasized.
It is absolutely imperative that emergency
responders always treat the systems and all of its
components as energized. This includes after the
incident is stabilized, as the system will continue
to be energized while exposed to sunlight,
possible with damaged componentsthat could
present serious shock hazards or cause rekindling
of a fire to occur’.
NFPA CONT…
“ The presence of rooftop disconnects are
primarily for maintenance of the system. Fire
fighters should be wary of utilizing these as a
secure method of power isolation. If not all
disconnects to an inverter are opened, there
still exists the possibility of voltage throughout
the system. Additionally, large capacitors in
the inverters will provide voltage in daylight
hours for several minutes on both sides of the
disconnect even when opened.”
EMERGENCY RESPONSE…
•
•
•
•
Develop a action plan suited to the incident.
Assign control of utilities.
Do not lay ladders on roof panels.
Water streams 30 [email protected] 100psi from 33 ft. or
more only if required.
• No straight stream patterns, no foam.
• Avoid placing you and your crew in a fashion that
puts you & the array between you 7 your escape
route.
EMERGENCY RESPONSE
• Make sure all conduit and components are well
identified prior to overhaul.
• Do not walk on or cut panels.
• Transfer of command leave scene in as safe a
condition as possible.
• Notify all incoming crews of all dangers and
possible power supplies.
• Identify & barricade all hazards.
• Do not release site until security is secured and
dangers are controlled.
Fire departments
should test their
salvage
covers on a PV array in
advance of an incident
to determine if they will
successfully block light
transmission
REMEMBER… ALWAYS TREAT AS LIVE!
Large commercial
arrays will have
disconnects and
inverters situated
behind and protection
by the PV array.
BE CAREFUL & REMEMBER
SOMEBODY LOVES YOU
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