Now is the time of making sustainable choices and using the best renewable power sources, such as solar energy. Taking an eco-conscious decision for the betterment of the environment and choosing to install a solar power system is just a step forward in the right direction.
The next step is ensuring that your solar power system runs to its total efficiency, making your business or home self-sustainable. For that, you must protect it from a potential solar flare, also known as an EMP attack.
Let’s look at what EMP means and how you can safeguard your solar panels from possible destruction caused by an electromagnetic blast.
- 1 What Is EMP or Solar Flare?
- 2 Can EMP or Solar Flare Damage the Solar Panel Systems?
- 3 Are Off-Grid Solar Panel Systems Immune to An EMP Attack?
- 4 Can Solar Panel Systems Survive an EMP Attack?
- 5 Can We Protect Our Solar Panel Systems from An EMP Attack?
- 6 Final Words
What Is EMP or Solar Flare?
When the sun’s surface erupts with massive energy production, making it one of the enormous explosions happening within our solar system, it’s termed a solar flare. There is another kind of eruption on the sun’s surface wherein the sun’s matter is released into space. It’s called Coronal Mass Ejection (CME).
On the other hand, EMP is a release of the electromagnetic pulse when a nuclear weapon detonates or lightning strikes. There are faint traces of this electromagnetic pulse or wave in the solar flares.
When this energy is exuded, it holds the power to destroy the solar power systems, GPS, radios, communication systems, power grids, and many other electronic devices, especially ones with wires.
Can EMP or Solar Flare Damage the Solar Panel Systems?
While solar panels hardly have any electronics fitted within their structure, they have long wires connecting them with the entire solar power system.
So, these long wires play the role of a magnificent antenna that attracts the flare and damages the solar panel or panel systems after the occurrence of an EMP. Any solar power electronics will likely get killed for the same reason.
The charge controller and the solar inverters make for the prime component in any solar power system. They help convert solar power into usable energy.
Unfortunately, these elements are most susceptible to face disruption or damage from an EMP or solar flare.
Are Off-Grid Solar Panel Systems Immune to An EMP Attack?
An off-grid solar power system comprises a battery bank, a photovoltaic solar panel, and several other significant pieces. Since these components do not hold any circuitry, they are not prone to any direct harm caused by EMP.
That said, solar flares can cause damage to the connecting wires of the off-grid solar panel system since electricity runs through them. These wires attract the EMP signs, which might reduce the solar power system’s full functionality and efficiency.
Besides the connecting wires, the strings of diodes that facilitate the transfer of power from the solar panel system to the battery bank might also be adversely affected.
Can Solar Panel Systems Survive an EMP Attack?
An EMP attack is not a very likely occurrence. Well, certainly not, unless a considerably massive nuclear weapon is detonated high up in the Earth’s atmosphere.
This EMP attack will occur in three phases – E1, E2, and E3.
E1 is potentially the most damage-inducing pulse, wherein a big burst of gamma radiation will saturate the air within its range of up to 50,000 volts of electricity. This will happen in nanoseconds post the nuclear eruption.
E2 will act more like a cloud of lightning, which is slightly less harmful to the power grids since they have inner EMP protection against lightning. Although, E1 is likely to destroy anything that E2 could have saved.
E3 is more of a slow-moving electromagnetic pulse. It will produce geo-magnetic currents in the long line of electrical conductors. In simple terms, all the power lines and telephone wires will have a build-up of powerful charge, which will quickly zap all the electronics on their way.
All the precious grid substation equipment and power transformers will lose their electrical power in no time.
In these phases of an EMP attack, you best believe that it will lead to disruption of everything that makes use of electronic circuitry. This includes all electronics in airplanes, cards, electric grids, and your residential solar system. This damage will likely be irreversible.
The 2004 report by the U.S. Government states that the sequence in which E1, E2, and E3 of an EMP attack occurs is significant. Each phase is likely to cause damage, but the harm created by the later phase can exponentially increase depending on the injury caused by the earlier phase.
In either case, fixing the electric system will take weeks or months for a complete replacement of critical parts and slow stabilization of the grid.
Additionally, if projected in the right direction, a coronal mass ejection (CME) could act like the E3 phase of an EMP attack. CME surprisingly happens often, except they rarely impact us.
The first recorded CME struck Earth in 1859, which led to electricity zapping in the telegraph system. It was the biggest CME hit. In 2012, a near-miss incident also happened, which could have cost a massive loss of U.S. $2 trillion by putting out enormous transfers.
There was a 12% chance for a mega CME storm to hit Earth by 2020, but that did not happen. So far, we are in the safe!
Now, the main question arises…
Can We Protect Our Solar Panel Systems from An EMP Attack?
The installation costs of solar panels are, on average, around $16,000. As cost-saving and energy-intensive solar panel systems are, they also require a reasonable budget for an overall setup.
In such a case, it makes sense to look for reasonable methods to ensure your new solar panel installation is protected from possible EMP attacks.
Now, we know that connecting wires of the solar installer act as an antenna for the flares. The longer the cables, the larger the possibility of damage.
If your panels are not connected to any wire, they might not face any destruction. Similarly, your electronic devices like solar inverters, computers, charge controllers, smartphones, etc., may not get damaged if switched off and unplugged.
But, for an extra added layer, you can undertake the following methods of EMP protection:
Construct a Faraday Cage
A Faraday cage is quite a simple device that helps protect electronic devices from any possible electromagnetic radiation.
It looks like a box with a non-conductive frame, carefully wrapped in a metal mesh. This mesh conducts the EM radiation and electricity while protecting the essential components within the device from getting destroyed.
Any electronic put inside a faraday cage will survive the dreadful impact of a nuclear EMP.
You can quickly build this cage yourself by following these steps:
- Take two galvanized sheets of metal that are larger than your solar panel system
- Put one sheet of metal at the top, and another at the bottom of the panel
- Make sure to wrap all your wires with any conductive material like an aluminum foil
- Then, connect your board
- Remember not to touch the metal sheets with your bare hands once the panel is connected
- Additionally, it’s significant to adequately ground your panel system and the faraday cage for solid protection
Buy One EMP-Hardened Solar Inverter
A Faraday cage may help keep your solar panel system from getting zapped only if it’s not plugged in. Otherwise, the E3 pulse will still fry all the circuit boards.
Several solar companies know just the right thing to offer ample protection from an EMP attack.
One such utility company has invented a Sol-Ark solar inverter which is EMP-hardened. The inverter is explicitly designed to prevent any possible EMP disruption due to the sun or a nuclear weapon.
It protects your solar panel system and offers you much-needed peace of mind. Come what may, your solar energy system will survive solar flare, EMP, or any other doomsday event, ensuring you’re never out of energy!
Get a Surge Protector
For most commercial devices and residential solar power systems, lighting arrestors and surge protectors offer excellent protection in the event of an electricity outage.
They may also protect the devices from the impact of EMP. While a powerful solar flare can wipe out all electrical services, it won’t damage electronic devices like panel systems if plugged into the surge protector.
Nonetheless, you would have to run the devices on backup power sources.
Get Panels on A Solar Lease
Solar leases are not much protection against EMP, per se, but they will make solar panels more accessible to you without having to invest a considerable fund.
In case a solar flare or EMP attack happens, you wouldn’t face a financial loss by getting your solar panel systems destroyed!
Solar flares or EMP can cause considerable damage to all of your electronic devices, especially ones with wires. So, if your panels are not plugged in, they are more or less protected from the potential damage of the flare. On the other hand, if you connect them to the power system with long wires with power coursing through them, an EMP attack can put out your entire system.
Thus, it’s essential to prepare for any tragic event like an EMP attack by taking steps that would protect your solar panels or grid system.
You can do this by building a faraday cage. Alternatively, a surge protector might help too. You can also buy an EMP-hardened solar inverter or invest in a solar lease instead of getting the panel system yourself.
These proactive steps will plausibly protect your power system from any disaster awaiting!