Case Study: Solar Wire Management
September 24, 2019
Wire management is a critically important part of solar operations and maintenance. Healthy wire management ensures solar projects can run at full steam because it prevents breakdowns, safety emergencies, and costly repairs. In this post, we rundown two case studies where WWS’s wire management solutions helped clients save money, time, and elevated both sites to industry best practices.
BRINGING A SOLAR SITE’S WIRING TO SPEC
World Wind & Solar was hired to fix the wiring at a solar site in Ramona, CA. The original contractor had installed the wiring poorly. Instead of installing it according to the blueprints, the contractor had placed the grounding cables along the ground.
To fix the issues, the WWS team unstrung and untangled all the wiring, bundled it neatly, and relaid it according to specifications. This meant ensuring the grounding systems and components were separated from the conductors and neutrals, a best management practice (BMP) that had not been implemented in the original installation.
The team spent roughly two weeks fixing the wiring. Afterward, the WWS QA/QC team conducted a full scan of the site and assessed the wiring installation. This task had not been requested of the client, but WWS wanted to make sure everything was indeed connected according to best practices.
Juan Acuna, the team lead on the Ramona project, discussed the importance of QA/QC. “I’m a QA/QC guy through and through, so I want to make sure when I say everything is good on that job site, EVERYTHING is good. Though it wasn’t a scope requirement, we did a check of the work and found a few things here and there that could be improved.” Juan approached the client with the suggestion that his team re-check all their work and fix any issues. The client was more than happy to receive a better deliverable than had originally been contracted and gave the green light on the task.
REPLACING FIRE DAMAGED WIRING AND 12,000 PANELS
World Wind & Solar was called to another solar project in Mendota, CA after faulty underground cables ignited overgrown vegetation, causing a rampant fire that damaged 7,000 solar panels. The repair efforts on this project extended beyond swapping the damaged panels and wires. The client wanted to install 12,000 panels total, which were of different dimensions than the previously installed modules.
To do this mechanical retrofit, WWS had to first create room for the new modules. This meant pulling up and replacing the wiring, some of which had to be replaced with new cables due to the fire damage. It was financially better to check the wire for damage as opposed to completely replacing it, so WWS assessed every inch to see what could be recovered. This posed a challenge for two reasons: 1) some of the damage happened within the jacket of the cabling, making the destroyed areas hard to pinpoint, and 2) the heat from the fire had traveled through the conductors, making it possible for unseen fire damage to have happened yards away from where the fire took place.
The WWS team salvaged as much wiring as possible, then restrung the new modules in different groups and series so they could go to parallels in the collection trays. Once restrung, WWS placed the panels in the new orientation. Afterward, the team performed IV Curve tracing on each row to ensure the modules and wiring performed to manufacturer guidelines.
Altogether, the project took four months, spanned two seasons, and leveraged the manpower of 28 team members. The challenging project encountered one setback that WWS mitigated quickly, a badger onsite. A badger was seen by a WWS technician during construction, so work was halted. To ensure the animal would not be caused undue stress from the work, WWS arranged for an environmentalist to come out to the site to conduct an assessment.
After the project was completed, WWS offered its herbicide spraying and mowing services to help prevent future brush fires. WWS was later contacted by the client for help with translation. One of WWS’s Spanish-speaking technicians was asked to contact a local shepherd and coordinate vegetation management services.
WWS SERVICE PHILOSOPHY
Safety, Efficiency, Expertise, and Cost Effectiveness are the four pillars of our service philosophy. Our safety-trained solar experts know what needs to be done, and how it needs to be done, safely. Our technicians live our ‘Here to Serve’ motto and regularly go above and beyond. When you have a service need, whether unexpected or routine, give WWS a call and let us be your easy button. To learn more about our Solar services, contact [email protected].