Check out this guide to installing hurricane-resistant rooftop solar PV systems

Sollega hurricane damage

This Sollega system survived hurricane Irma in 2017.

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and the Clinton Foundation released a new report focusing on best practices for installing climate-resistant rooftop solar in high-wind regions. Solar Under Storm II (yes, the sequel to Solar Under Storm published in 2018 that focused on ground-mounts), focuses more specifically on rooftop solar survivability from the Caribbean during extreme weather events and hurricane-force winds.

That first Solar Under Storm was adopted into the Eastern Caribbean Building Code and is used to inform technical requirements for utility scale projects across the Caribbean. The new Solar Under Storm Part II report shows that rooftop solar survival in the face of major hurricanes and cyclones is achievable and lists a number of technical considerations and recommendations for system specifications in future projects in hurricane-prone areas.

Ensuring roof-mounted solar installations survive hurricane force storms applies not only to the Caribbean, but also in other regions which have growing distributed energy systems and face intense storms, such as the Southeastern United States, Southeast Asia, East Africa and the Pacific Islands.

Solar Under Storm recommendations:

  • If top-down clamps are required, use clamps that hold modules individually or independently;
  • Specify bolt hardware that is vibration-resistant and appropriate for the environment and workforce;
  • Do not use self-tapping screws for structural connections.

The report also identifies areas of opportunity for multi-party collaboration to improve the entire value chain and life cycle of rooftop solar in the region. These collaboration recommendations include:

  • Collaborate with installers to implement and continuously improve QA/QC and operation and maintenance (O&M) processes;
  • Collaborate with racking suppliers to carry out full-scale and connection tests representative of ASCE 7 3-second (Category 5 hurricane) wind speeds;
  • Collaborate with solar module suppliers and distributers to ensure local availability of high-load, robust-frame PV modules.

The new report has been designed as guide for both technical and non-technical audiences, with the goal of creating more informed solar professionals, regulators, government officials, utilities, and customers.

The report was written in collaboration with the Clinton Foundation, FCX Solar and several solar professionals from Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, and Turks & Caicos Islands.

Check out the full report here.

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