To help ensure that residential rooftop solar systems in the Caribbean are resilient to hurricanes, the Clinton Climate Initiative, Rocky Mountain Institute, FCX Solar, and CJQ Engineering will write and publish a technical report to identify the root causes and types of rooftop solar PV failure, and create actionable best practices for members of the solar sector to harden their systems. The publication will include approximately 20-30 pages with photo examples, written narrative, and clearly synthesized conclusions and best practices. Photos will be collected from a network of installers and building owners with examples of 26 installations that failed and survived previous storms, including both the 2017 and 2019 seasons.
The report will include the following sections. Root Cause Identification: this analysis assesses photographic evidence of previous failed solar systems to determine the original cause of failure. Failure Mode and Effective Analysis (FMEA): here the authors conduct technical assessments to determine why the primary failure modes occurred and identify alternatives to prevent failure. Recommended Best Practices: a total of 18 proposed solutions based on the failure mode analysis. Appendix: the report will conclude with a readily-usable Solar PV Plant Wind Pressure Checklist for Project Owners.
The Clinton Climate Initiative is providing funding, project management, and written content for the project. The Rocky Mountain Institute is providing written content, copy editing, graphic design, and media outreach. FCX Solar LLC is providing structural engineering expertise, solar expertise, and written content. Puerto Rico-based engineering firm, CJQ Engineering, is providing structural engineering expertise, solar expertise, and ensures that this report leverages local expertise and is tailored to the Caribbean context.
After the report is completed, an in-person workshop will be conducted for 50 people in the solar industry in Puerto Rico on February 18, 2020 to share the findings of the report and train attendees in recommended best-practices for resilient rooftop solar design. Additional subsequent webinars may be conducted on the material and partners will share results with relevant organizations in the solar industry to circulate and help institutionalize best practices. Partners will also conduct outreach to at least 15 media outlets to pitch report findings and drive engagement.
February 2020: Completing the Solar Under Storm analysis and publication; in-person training workshop in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
March to April 2020: Outreach to media; outreach to relevant renewable energy organizations to circulate and help institutionalize best practices; additional workshops.
The 2017 hurricane season was one of the most active in history and brought widespread destruction throughout the Caribbean. In 2019, Hurricane Dorian was the most severe hurricane to ever hit the Bahamas and one of the most powerful Atlantic storms of all time. Disruption of critical services due to lack of electricity left many people, especially vulnerable populations, without basic needs such as food, shelter, and healthcare. Solar and storage are increasingly seen as a solution to provide continuous power in the event of storms when the grid is down and have become a competitor to diesel generation.
Solar PV is the most rapidly growing source of power for many Caribbean islands. According to Renewable Energy Caribbean, at the end of 2018 there was an estimated 571 MW of solar PV installed across the Caribbean, including a significant capacity of systems installed on rooftops. Incorporation of the best available engineering, design, delivery, and operational practices is a necessity for these systems to endure storm events with wind speeds as high as 180 to 200 m.p.h. and continue to bring reliable electricity to those who need it most. This is possible - as was seen through the many systems that survived the 2017 and 2019 hurricanes - however, it requires proper design, material selection, and installation.
In 2018, Rocky Mountain Institute, FCX Solar LLC and others published a report called “Solar Under Storm: Select Best Practices for Resilient Ground-Mount PV Systems with Hurricane Exposure”. The report received wide attention from the solar industry and utilities in the Caribbean – over six million impressions across 13 media outlets – but only considered ground-mount systems. There exists a gap in the literature of best practices for resilient roof-mounted solar PV.
The partners are seeking help sharing this open-source document with others across the region to amplify awareness about the best practices that have been outlined.
The partners in this Commitment are offering to share best-practices with other organizations in the solar industry in Puerto Rico and across the region by hosting an in-person training workshop open to the public and subsequent webinars, speaking engagements, as requested.