ABB supports sustainable power with B.E. White and Solarcentury

Low voltage electrical protection and control equipment from ABB is being used in new technological developments aimed at maximising protection against electrical faults in photovoltaic installations. The Functional Earth Unit, and Surge Protection Unit designed by B.E. White and Solarcentury, uses ABB’s OT switches, contactors and surge protection devices to protect against damage caused by earth faults and electrical surges.

Designed by electrical engineers and wholesalers, BE White and solar engineers, Solarcentury, the Functional Earth Unit ensures no dangerous earth leakage currents are permitted to flow in earthed photovoltaic cables while simultaneously accommodating the earthing needs of the photovoltaic array. Alongside this the Surge Protection Unit ensures any surge currents are diverted harmlessly to protect both the photovoltaic modules and the overall electrical installation. This is particularly important for safeguarding against lightning damage, which can cause irreparable damage both to solar modules and to the structure of a property. An indicator light on the Surge Protection Unit alerts the system owner to any earth fault.

ABB’s OT switch disconnectors are widely used in photovoltaic applications. They are typically used to isolate individual strings of solar modules and battery banks or as the main switch for a complete system. The switches are compact in size, have high DC voltage ratings, and offer a range of safety and protection features. Options are available from 16 to 630A and up to 1000 VDC and AC in various switching categories.

“We have been supplying products to BE White for a number of years, helping them to integrate low voltage devices into new solar solutions,” says Mark Macavoy, Field Sales Engineer, ABB low voltage products. “We were invited to present a range of products to both BE White and Solarcentury to demonstrate the capabilities and suitable applications within the sector.”

Continues Macavoy, “As a result of our meetings to explore how ABB could support both BE White and Solarcentury with their future developments, our contactors, surge protection devices and OT switches were integrated into the Functional Earth Unit and Surge Protection Unit.”

A key driver in the development of the Functional Earth Unit was the need to comply with new legislation introduced by the Union Technique de I’Electricité (UTE), the French national standards body for the electrotechnical field. The legislation aims to introduce a minimum standard for the integration of photovoltaic generators into electrical grid systems and to ensure maximum protection against disruption caused by electrical faults in photovoltaic arrays.

Speaking about the standards, Martyn Berry, Principal Design Engineer for Solarcentury, says: “As we operate both in the UK and mainland Europe, we wanted to ensure that the products we offer meet the latest legislation.”

Continues Berry, “This development was a great opportunity to work with BE white and ABB and ensure we have the right products to meet the legislation. The Functional Earth Unit allows us to offer a product that is easy to install and which meets all of the relevant compliance and performance requirements.”

“These new products will secure our position as one of the leading suppliers of electrical control products to the renewables industry in the UK” comments David Minnis, electrical designer at B.E. White. “We have worked with Solarcentury for many years and have used ABB products to overcome new as well as existing problems in switching and control of DC and AC power in the photovoltaic industry.”

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