Designed to withstand hurricanes of up to the category 4, each of the 55 solar power installations on Antigua, ranging from several kWp to the 3 MWp and 4 MWp utility scale installations at the international airport of Antigua and in the Lavington/Bethesda region with a total of 38,000 panels mounted, have survived hurricane Irma without damages or substantial system failures.
One of these PV systems, based on a 50 kWp sun2safe hybrid converter, was even able to generate 25% of its maximum expected performance during the worst hours of the hurricane, thanks to its proprietary MPPT tracking algorithm which is able to optimise the production even under extreme weather conditions.
A little deserved bragging from a trade journal, but this really should be on the evening news. This is the good news. The bad news is that since almost all PV arrays are “grid-tied” they require the main grid to be up in order to provide power. When the main grid goes down, absent a battery or a special inverter, the solar array goes down as well. This is primarily a safety issue, since you don’t want linesmen injured working on a downed power line they think is dead, but is actually energized by a solar array.
Unlike traditional power sources on poles, solar arrays are highly resilient and likely to survive these types of storms. What they need now is a battery backup so they can be isolated from the main grid, and continue to provide power when the mains are down. Cheaper battery prices will make this a reality in the next few years (much to the horror of many utilities who are fighting the future instead of embracing it).