Though solar panels are widely used in many households, the lack of space still seems a problem for many homeowners. The solar panels require significant roof space or ground space for installation. Many innovations have popped up in the solar industry to solve this space constraint, including conventional roof and ground-mounted solar panels, solar roadways, and solar carports.
When people are lack space, there is a common question among every solar enthusiast. Can you put solar panels under power lines? While there is no restriction on installing solar panels under the power lines, it is generally not recommended. If any uncertain events occur, it may lead to unnecessary fire accidents.
This article discusses whether installing solar panels under power lines is safe and why we don’t see any solar panels being set up under the array lines. Let us get started.
Interaction between Solar Panels and Power Lines
The solar panels carry the DC from the sun and take it to the inverter. The inverter, in turn, converts the solar power into AC.
The Powerlines carry the AC power, the voltage of which varies depending upon the capacity of the transmission lines.
So, does the AC power of the powerline interfere with the DC power of the Solar panel? Electrically speaking, No, and they don’t interrupt or interact with each other. But, Magnetically Yes.
The magnetic field of the powerline can influence the operation of the solar arrays. For example, the inverter that converts DC into AC power. The higher the voltage, the higher is the impact of the magnetic power and Vice-versa.
Installing the solar panels under the powerlines is not suitable for the magnetic power of the powerline.
Does Grid need power from Solar Energy?
Well, you may take this as an excuse or a supplementary reason to install the solar panels under the powerlines.
Yes. The Grid needs power from solar energy. Even though the government offers us various rebates and tax benefits for installing solar panels, solar energy cannot be used as a stand-alone form of energy.
At present, the excess energy generated by the panels is redirected to the Grid, and you get a credit to that extent in your electricity bill.
Though there is a reason why we can install solar panels under the powerlines, there are several other reasons why it should not be put under them. Let us explore them in detail.
Why should you not install solar panels under the power lines?
Let us not explore why we should not install solar panels under the power lines.
Space for maintenance and Upgrades
When there is small maintenance work or up-gradation to the existing power lines, we need large trucks and cranes to support the process.
It is not practical to make a smooth transition in a cramped space. We need the area below the powerlines to be free from hurdles and ready for any unforeseen maintenance and upgrades.
If solar panels are installed in the bare area, you need to struggle with the actual maintenance activity.
Huge solar panels don’t fit well.
If you want to install massive solar panels and arrays, including solar farms, requires vast space and massive step-down transformers and generators. In that case, it is not possible to install them under the powerlines.
It is not just about the space; the repairs and maintenance for the solar panels would become complicated.
We have already discussed how the panels and powerlines interfere in each other`s operations. There is no interference with the DC of the powerlines and AC of the PV cells.
The problem comes where the AC gets converted into DC in the inverter. The powerlines which carry high voltage have a highly concentrated electromagnetic field radiation (EMF) zone, and this emission might hinder the operation of the PV panels.
EMF also causes several physiological and immunodeficiency diseases, including cancer. If you work under the high EMF zone, your health may be at risk.
No available space in developed regions
Just like we think of using the space under the powerlines, there are many other infrastructures that may be given top priority in well-developed regions.
They include road networks, agriculture, industrial and residential establishments. So, the space is already occupied by the prioritized needs in many developed regions.
Unrealistic for smaller panels
If you want to install panels for your home, the best option would be to install them on the rooftop. Installing them under the powerlines would not serve the purpose.
Even at your home, if you were to place in any other space, make sure that the sunlight falls directly on the panels and does not hinder power generation. If the shade of the powerline falls on the panels, the panel’s efficiency decreases over time.
Physical damage to solar panels
When harsh weather, storm, strong wind, and massive ice accumulation, the power transmission lines may fall. If they land on the panels, the panels may be physically damaged with microcracks; thereby, their operational efficiency comes down.
If there is a powerline drop, the situation gets worse. It may cause the solar panels to blow up the flame, beyond physically damaging the solar panels.
What leads to powerline drop? It occurs due to ground rise or earth fault. If the solar power system is not earthed correctly, you might face voltage fluctuations in the adjacent households.
You need to check Clearance requirements.
You might find no restriction in your region to install solar panels under the powerlines. But, it is not the same with all the areas. In specific locations, exceptionally high voltage transmission, the space below the powerlines is restricted for public use.
Check the clearance requirements before deciding to install solar panels; else, you might end up violating the rules.
You don’t install solar panels under the powerlines to be on the safer side. The reasons above clearly show why the solar panels are not fit to be installed under the powerlines.
What should be the distance between the solar panels and the powerlines?
The minimum distance between the solar panels and the powerlines should be 200m for our safety.
Nevertheless, whether there are any rules or restrictions placed in installing the solar panels near the powerlines, the farther the distance, the better the panels would be.
The repairs and maintenance of the solar panels installed near the powerlines become cumbersome. If you are planning to set up a solar farm near the powerlines, it is recommended that you install demountable solar panels to remove them for any repairs.
What is the best place to install solar panels?
Now that we know it is not a great idea to install the panels under the powerlines let us explore the best places to install solar panels.
- If your roof is vast and straightforward, your rooftop would be the best choice.
- IF you have vast glass panes on a tall building, you may mount them on your window.
- Ground-mounted panels
- Bottom or side of a swimming pool
- Pergola or patio
What is the future of energy – Solar panels or powerlines?
Experts around the globe say more solar panels would help better than more powerlines. The reason for the same would be,
- Solar energy is a cheaper and better energy source in the long run.
- It does carry pollutants and is clean.
- It is a renewable source of energy and can never be depleted.
- Solar power is available everywhere at free cost.
Yet, many countries have to decide whether to go with more solar panels or powerlines. In areas without proper electricity, the old powerlines need to be upgraded.
How do you connect the solar panels to the Grid?
If you have already installed the solar panels at your house, your inverter will convert the AC to DC power which needs to be transferred to the Grid.
To transfer the DC power, you need to connect the inverter to a point before the breaker (Supply-side connection) or after the electric breaker (load-side connection). Connecting the inverter to the load-side link is the most commonly followed method of connecting solar energy to the Grid.
Does Solar need transmission lines?
Yes. We need transmission lines to transfer the solar energy from producing unit to the demanded region. We need to design high-capacity solar transmission lines to achieve efficient transmission through state and federal efforts.
As per the Solar Energy Industries Association, the transmission lines in solar are focused on intrastate opportunities in the US.
Considering our safety, technical and logical reasons, the major takeaway is that it is better to avoid installing solar panels under the powerlines. Even if there are no restrictions or regulations on such installation, finding an alternative space to install your solar panels is better.
Considering all the significant reasons we should not install the panels under the powerlines, the risk of installing them under powerlines is not worth it.