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Huawei’s advanced smart PV power solutions prevent hazardous risks

Smart, safe battery systems

Smart, safe battery systems

28th June 2024

     

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Renewable power sources have been credited with helping South Africa achieve its longest break from rolling black outs in four years. Elsewhere on the continent around 600 million people lack adequate access to electricity, putting them and their businesses under pressure. Africa is a minor contributor to global emissions, but this has not stopped the uptake of solar and other renewables to meet energy needs.

The continent is primed for solar energy production due to its extensive sunshine with average solar-radiation levels exceeding 2 100kWh/m2 per year, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. By contrast, southern France and Spain only get 1 500 kWh/m2 per year.

“The increased demand for solar energy is welcomed as the world moves towards green energy. However, the solar rush in Africa should not come at the expense of people’s safety,” says Nick Lusson, Vice President of Huawei Eastern-Africa Digital Power.

Solar installations that use substandard equipment or were not properly installed present a fire risk. There are also problems that can put a homeowner at risk long after installation.

Solar systems commonly have two risk areas, above the rooftop where the solar panels are and below the roof where the battery is. Huawei’s residential smart photovoltaic (PV) and energy storage solutions (ESS), called Power-M and Huawei Residential Battery, offer superior safety features that help manage fire and other risks to the whole home.

Solar equipment that prevent risks

“When people and business owners shift to solar power, they are looking for an energy solution that brings them peace of mind,” says Lusson. “Every buyer should also be aware of the risks.”

Substandard installations, low-quality equipment, damaged cables, and loose connections can all cause fires.

“Solar panels produce DC current, which means there is a high chance of fire if there is a damaged cable or loose connection,” explains Lusson.

Faults like broken wires or loose connections can force continuously flowing electricity to jump across two points where there is a potential difference (voltage). This produces an arc which is a high fire risk.

Arc faults can instantly reach as high as 3000 degrees Celsius, and this can start fires that are difficult even for firefighters to control.

Huawei solar solutions avoid this because they have a safety feature called Arc Fault Circuit Interruption (AFCI). AFCI can detect a DC arc and shut off power in less than half a second.

The AFCI feature has recently become an international safety requirement in places like China, the United States of America as well as the European Union. Huawei’s AFCI feature exceeds all international safety standards.

Another safety feature for Huawei solar panels is called Rapid Shutdown (RSD). 

Since solar panels have no intelligence and no on and off switch, any time the sun shines on them there will be voltage on the cables. Even if you are not ready for voltage or when the panels are not connected. This presents a safety risk for installers, roofers, and even firefighters.

For example, if a fire breaks out in a home with solar panels on the roof and there is no RSD feature present, firefighters then risk electrocution if they go near the panels. This may lead to firefighters waiting until the solar panels are completely burnt away before extinguishing the fire so they avoid electrocution.

Huawei has a PV Optimizer, which can be attached to the back of each solar panel, to help it produce energy more efficiently. These PV optimizers are fitted with the RSD safety feature so you can completely shut off the voltage (0V) on your solar panels in a matter of seconds. RSD gives installers, maintenance teams, and firefighters peace of mind should they need to work close to these panels.

RSD is now also a safety requirement in many countries around the world and Huawei products exceed these standards.

The main risk associated with batteries is that they can overheat if they are faulty, low quality, damaged, or if they have faulty control mechanisms. This can result in a fire.

“Battery fires are particularly difficult to put out because they continue to ignite themselves due to the materials of the battery,” warns Lusson.

Battery fires can use up large quantities of water before they are effectively put out and this water can carry metals that are harmful to the environment. In most cases firefighters would rather create a perimeter and let the fire burn itself out.

Huawei’s ESS batteries mitigate this risk with four layers of safety systems.

First, Huawei does extensive safety testing on its battery cells and this far exceeds industry standards. Only the highest quality battery cells are used in Huawei batteries. The cells are then manufactured into Huawei battery packs.

Each battery pack has eight temperature and voltage sensors to detect problems at the cell level, within every pack. Huawei’s monitoring systems use algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor the voltage and temperatures within the cell. These tools closely watch for any abnormalities that indicate a problem.

When an abnormality is detected, the Huawei battery management system can isolate the problem and send a notification to the Huawei monitoring app.

This alerts the homeowner and the installation partner to the problem. This mechanism then isolates the faulty battery pack without affecting the other equipment, so all the other batteries and components will continue to work at full capacity.

Fuses and circuit breakers are built into the electrical system as a second layer of safety. Structural safety comes into play with Huawei’s highly durable, heat-resistant enclosures which are also dust and water resistant to prevent damage.

Then an automatic fire extinguishing device inside every battery pack, provides emergency protection by preventing ignition when a fault is detected.

“By law, fire protection kits must be located close to battery packs. Huawei’s ESS simplifies this with a smart, built-in fire extinguishing device that activates when emergencies are detected,” says Lusson.

“The AI fitted into Huawei smart inverters is trained on data that helps it know the difference between a healthy battery and one that could ignite. This intelligence is integrated in the Fusionsolar smartphone app and feeds real-time system information to the owner.”

Huawei solutions also protect people in homes from electromagnetic radiation. Most electronic devices emit some electromagnetic radiation. Too much exposure to this radiation for a prolonged period can be harmful.

South Africa and many other countries have laws that set electromagnetic radiation levels deemed safe for home solar systems. Huawei equipment operates well within recommended safety standards for residential solar equipment.

Alarmingly, recent tests have shown that many other residential solar systems on the market are not compliant, leaving customers at risk.

Huawei’s Power-M and Residential Battery solutions adhere to international safety standards and surpass those required within Africa. A sign of the company's enduring commitment to giving customers peace of mind and keeping them safe with best-in-class technology.

Lusson concludes by saying “our equipment does not compromise when it comes to achieving the highest standards of safety.”

 

For additional information please contact:

Vanashree Govender

vanashreegovender@huawei.com

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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