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ArcFlashHazardsonPhotovoltaicArrays

EndofSemesterReport,Spring2013

DavidSmith
PreparedtoPartiallyFulfilltheRequirementsofECE402

DepartmentofElectricalandComputerEngineering
ColoradoStateUniversity
FortCollins,Colorado80523

ProjectAdvisor:Dr.GeorgeCollins
IndustrySponsor:DohnSimms,PraxisCorporation

Approvedby:DrGeorgeCollins

Abstract

Forthesecondsemesterofmyseniorproject,Ichosetofocusonthesubjectofarcflash
hazardsinutilityscalephotovoltaicarrays.Asanelectrician,thissubjectcombinesmy
interestsinelectricalworkersafetyandthecontinuedrapidpaceofthedevelopmentof
alternativemethodsofgeneratingelectricity.Thissubjectisofgreatpracticalinterestto
FacilityandProjectManagerswhoareresponsibleforthesafetyoftheirworkersbutmust
alsobalancethisconcernwiththeneedtomaintainareliablesystemwithminimal
downtime.

Anarcflashisasustainedarcingcurrentthatpropagatesthroughtheconductiveplasma
createdbythebreakdownofagaseousdielectricmedium,typicallyair.Giventheright
conditions,thecurrentwillcontinuetoflowunabateduntilinterruptedbyanupstream
overcurrentprotectivedevice.Sucharcsreleaseenormousenergy,resultinginhigh
temperatures,soundlevels,pressuresandtheejectionofhighspeedmoltendebris.

Muchoftheexistingresearchintopredictingarcflashenergiesisspecifictoalternating
current.TheempiricallyderivedequationsintheInstituteofElectricalandElectronics
EngineersGuidetoPerformingArcFlashHazardCalculations(IEEEStandard1584)applies
onlytoarcsinACsystems.Currently,noconsensusstandardexistsforcalculatingarc
energiesinDCsystems.However,the2012editionoftheNationalFireProtection
AssociationsStandardforElectricalSafetyintheWorkplace(NFPA70E)referencestwo
papersthatoffertheoreticalandsemiempiricalmethodsforestimatingDCarcenergy.

Thisreportpresentstheresultsobtainedinperformingacomparativeanalysisofthesetwo
methodsforpredictingDCarcenergyasappliedtoanexisting30MWphotovoltaicarray.It
shouldbenotedthatnohighpowerempiricaltestingwasperformedaspartofthisproject;
henceallvaluesprovidedherearepurelytheoreticalandspecifictotheSanLuisSolarFarm
inAlamosa,Colorado.

Ingeneral,faultcurrentsonthearrayarequitelowcomparedtoACsystems,andhencearc
energiesarecorrespondinglylowintheshorttimescale.However,clearingfaultsonthe
arraywithtraditionaltimeovercurrentdevicesisproblematic,andundercertainconditions
itmaybepossibleforfaultstopersistformuchlongerthanthe2secondmaximumoften
assumedinarcflashstudies.At2seconds,thecalculationmethodsutilizedreturnedvalues
ashighas17and8calories/cm2,respectively,highenoughtopresentasignificanthazardto
electricalworkers.

Contents
Abstract.........................................................................................................................................................2
Figures...........................................................................................................................................................3
Introduction..................................................................................................................................................4
SystemShortCircuitCurrent........................................................................................................................4
FaultClearingDevices...................................................................................................................................6
ArcingCurrentandFaultClearingTime........................................................................................................9
ArcLength...................................................................................................................................................11
IncidentEnergy...........................................................................................................................................13
EnclosureMultiplyingFactor......................................................................................................................14
ComparisonofValuesbetweenMethods..................................................................................................15
Conclusions.................................................................................................................................................17
FutureWork................................................................................................................................................18
References..................................................................................................................................................19
Acknowledgements.....................................................................................................................................19
AppendixA:Abbreviations.........................................................................................................................20
AppendixB:ProjectCosts..........................................................................................................................20
AppendixC:AdditionalMaterials...............................................................................................................21

Figures
Figure1:SunpowerModuleElectricalData..................................................................................................5
Figure2:GroundFault..................................................................................................................................7
Figure3:GroundFaultwithPreexistingFault.............................................................................................8
Figure4:PositivetoNegativeFault..............................................................................................................8
Figure5:ArcEquivalentCircuit.....................................................................................................................9
Figure6:SystemforImplementingAmmermanEquation(Zg=ArcGap=90mm)....................................10
Figure7:TimeCurrentCurveofInverterFuse............................................................................................10
Figure8:ArcPowerasFunctionArcCurrent..............................................................................................11
Figure9:ArcResistanceasaFunctionofArcGap......................................................................................12
Figure10:CombinerBoxArcGap...............................................................................................................12
Figure11:'k'asaFunctionofEnclosureSize..............................................................................................14
Figure12:'a'asaFunctionofEnclosureSize..............................................................................................15
Figure13:IEValues,MPPandAmmerman................................................................................................16
Figure14:SunpowerPVModule.................................................................................................................21
Figure15:InverterFuseCurve....................................................................................................................22
Figure16:StringFuseCurve........................................................................................................................23

Introduction
Withthegrowthinrecentyearsofutilityscalesolarphotovoltaicfarmscommonlyarranged
inarraysthatproducebetween600and1000voltsDC,itisbecomingincreasinglyimportant
toexplorewhetherdangerousarcscandevelopontheDCbus,andifso,toevaluate
methodsforpredictingtheenergiesworkersmightbeexposedto.Freeburningarcsofthe
sortthatcanbeinadvertentlystruckbyanelectricalworkerareverycomplex,difficultto
accuratelymodelandareevaluatedfromablackboxperspectiveinthispaper.Thetwo
methodsusedtopredictarcenergyontheSanLuisSolarFarm,bothcitedinthe2012
versionoftheNFPA70E,are:

MaximumPowerMethod,developedbyDanDoaninhis2007paperArcFlash
CalculationsforExposurestoDCSystems[1]
Semiempiricalmethod,developedbyDr.RavelAmmerman,etal,intheir2009
paperDCArcModelsandIncidentEnergyCalculations[2]

ThemaximumpowermethodisessentiallyaDCversionofLeesmethod[3],andrelieson
thepremisethatthemaximumpowertransferredtoaresistiveloadthearcresistancein
thiscaseoccurswhentheloadresistanceisequaltothatofthesource.Theoretically,this
methodwillprovideworstcasevalues,butitisarelativelysimpleapproachthatcomputes
arcenergyasafunctionofthesystemvoltageandavailableboltedfaultcurrentonly.

TheAmmermanmethodisbasedonareviewofhistoricallaboratorydatafromseveral
disparatestudiesspanningmorethanacentury.Wherethesedatasetscouldbereasonably
compared,goodagreementwasgenerallyfoundintheVoltAmpcharacteristicoftheDC
arc.Anequationdescribingthenonlinearnatureofarcresistancewasdevelopedfromone
ofthemostextensivesetsofdata,andistheequationusedthroughoutthispaper.Unlike
themaximumpowermethod,thisrelationshipincorporatesdifferencesinarclengthand
offersawaytopredictthearcresistanceandhencethearcingcurrent.

System Short Circuit Current


Asinanyarcflashstudy,thefirststepisbuildinganaccuratemodelofthesystemand
computingtheavailableshortcircuitcurrentatallworkeraccessiblenodesthatwould
requireanarcflashhazardlabel.TheSanLuisfacilityiscomposedofover100,000320Watt
modulesarrangedinseriesstringsofthirteen,withbetween222and225stringsfeeding38
inverters.Theinvertersaregalvanicallyisolatedpowerelectronicdevicesthatshouldnotbe
capableofsupplyingpowerfromtheACgridtotheDCbus.Hencewehavetreatedthefarm
as38essentiallyidentical,isolatedarrays.Theonlydifferencebetweentheseindividual

arraysisthenumberofstringsandsomesmalldifferencesinconductorlengthduetothe
placementoftheinvertersrelativetotheirassociatedstrings.Wehavefocusedon1INVA
(222strings)and19INVB(225strings)inordertocapturethefullrangeofcurrents
availableonthefarm.

TheVoltAmpcurveofaphotovoltaicmoduleisnonlinear,andthecellwillactaseithera
constantcurrentoraconstantvoltagesourcedependingonregionofoperation,whichis
determinedbytheloadresistance.Themaximumpowerthatcanbeprovidedbythemodule
occursatthetransitionbetweenthetworegionsandisthepointatwhichthemaximum
powerpointtrackingsystemwillattempttoholdthearray.Current,andvoltagetoamuch
lesserextent,dependsonsolarirradianceandtemperature.StandardTestConditionsfor
measuringamodulesVoltAmpcharacteristicareasolarirradianceof1000Watts/m2and
25Celsius.Themanufacturerdataforthe320WattSunpowermodulesusedontheSan
Luisfarmisshownbelow:

Figure1:SunpowerModuleElectricalData

Unfortunately,solarirradianceisnotconstant,noris1000Watts/m2amaximumpossible
value,sopredictingthecurrentthatmaybeflowinginthesystematfaultinceptionis
difficult.Intheinterestsofprovidingaworstcasevalue,ahighirradiancefactorof125%has
beenappliedtoallcomputedcurrentsinthesystem.Thiscanbeaproblematicstrategy
whenfaultsareclearedbytimeovercurrentdevices,sinceahigherfaultcurrentmay
indicateafasterclearingtimeandhencealowerarcenergy.However,aswillbediscussed
later,faultsclearedbytimeovercurrentdevicesonthisfarmwilllikelybeofsuchlong
durationthatthiswillnotbeameaningfulissue.

Busvoltageisdeterminedbythe13seriesmodulesand,assumingthefarmisoperating
anywherenearthemaximumpowerpoint,willstaywithinarelativelynarrowbandovera
largerangeofsolarirradiancevalues.Further,lowimpedancefaultsinthearraywillsagthe
voltage,andpushtheoperatingpointbackintotheconstantcurrentregionoftheVoltAmp
curve.Hence,thevaluesforcalculationsthroughoutthispaperarebasedonabusvoltageof
711V(54.7Volts*13modules)and125%oftheshortcircuitcurrentratingofnmodules,
dependingonthelocation.Accountingforconductorresistance,therangeofvaluesare
1,571AatCombinerBox1A11,and1,734AandInverter19INVB.

FaultClearing Devices
Unlikefaultsinothertypesofsystems,particularlyACsystemswithrotatingmachineswhere
faultcurrentsaretypicallyseveraltimesthenominaloperatingcurrent,theavailablefault
currentinaphotovoltaicarrayislimitedbytheamountofsolarradiationthatiscurrently
fallingonthemodules,andthiscurrentwillvaryverylittleoverawiderangeofoperating
voltages.Hencethefaultcurrentsinthesystemareessentiallyredirectedoperating
currents,andtraditionaltimeovercurrentdevicesmaynotclearfaultsquicklyoratall.

OntheSanLuisfarm,thereare10Afusesinthecombinerboxesattheendofeach13
modulestringand315Afusesintheinvertersattheendofeachfeederfromthecombiner
boxes.Thepositivepoleofthearrayisgroundedthroughcalibratedresistorsaspartofthe
GroundFaultProtectiveDevice(GFPD).Ariseinvoltageacrosstheseresistors,indicating
increasedcurrentflowaboveasmall,constantleakagecurrent,willtriggerthedevice,
rapidlyopeningthearraysconnectiontogroundandtotheACgrid.TheGFPDshould
operateforanyrelativelylowimpedancefault,aslongasthefaultcurrentisinexcessofthe
normalleakagecurrentthatflowsfromthepositivepoletogroundthroughtheGFPD
resistors.Figure1belowshowsthefaultcurrentpathintheeventofagroundfault:


Figure2:GroundFault

Inthiscase,thecurrentwillflowfromthegroundedpositivepoletothefaultpoint,which
hasbeenforcedtoalowerpotential,openingtheGFPDandtheDCcontactorintheinverter,
leavingnoavailablepathandclearingthefault.

However,inhis2012paper,TheGroundFaultProtectionBlindSpot:AsafetyConcernFor
LargerPhotovoltaicSystemsInTheUnitedStates[4],BillBrooksidentifiedascenariounder
whichtheGFPDmightfailtoclearagroundfault,andpostulatedthatthiswasthecauseof
tworecentfiresatlargesolararrays.Inthisscenario,ahighimpedancegroundfaultcould
developandpersistindefinitelyifthecurrentwasbelowtheleakagecurrentpreviously
referredto.Nowifalowimpedancegroundfaultweretooccur,theGFPDwouldtripas
before,butthepreexistinghighimpedancepathcoulddevelopintoapathcapableof
supplyingmuchoftheavailablecurrenttosecondfaultpoint.Thisscenarioisshownin
Figure2below,wherepointsAandBindicatedifferentpossiblelocationsforthepre
existingfault.IfatpointA,thesecondfaultwouldlikelytripthestringfuseandbecleared
relativelyquickly.AtpointB,theclearingdevicewouldbetheinverterfusewhichrequires
morecurrentthanisavailableinthesystemtooperatequickly:


Figure3:GroundFaultwithPreexistingFault

Finally,inthecaseofapositivetonegativefault,theGFPDshouldindeedtrip,butthereis
noreasonwhythearraycouldnotcontinuetosupplycurrenttoanarcingfaultasitsload.In
thiscase,theinverterfusewouldagainbetheclearingdevice:

Figure4:PositivetoNegativeFault

Arcing Current and Fault Clearing Time


Aspreviouslymentioned,thelackofsignificantcurrentriseduringafaultonaphotovoltaic
arraypresentsaproblemwhenthefaultmustbeclearedbyatimeovercurrentdevice.Even
assumingaboltedfaultattheinverterterminalswiththehighestavailablecurrent,1734A,
thetimecurrentcharacteristicsoftheinverterfusearesuchthatitwouldrequire
approximately4.5secondstoopen.Sincethetotalenergyinthearcincreaseslinearlywith
time,thisverylongfaultclearingtimecanleadtodangerouslyhighincidentenergies.
Accuratelypredictingthepotentialenergyaworkermightbeexposedtorequirestheability
toestimatethearcimpedance,andhencethearcingcurrent.

Thisistheprimarydrawbackofusingthemaximumpowermethod.Sinceitisassumedthat
thesourceresistanceisequaltothearcresistance,thevoltagedividerequationforthe
equivalentcircuitatthefaultpointreducestotheequationbelow.Now,themaximum
possiblepowerinthearcisfoundsimplyastheproductofthecurrentthroughthearcand
thevoltageacrossit,andtheclearingtimewouldnecessarilybecomputedbasedonan
arcingcurrentofonehalftheboltedfaultcurrent,sincethatistheonlyinformation
availablewhenusingthismodel.

Figure5:ArcEquivalentCircuit

Inreality,thenonlinearnatureofthearcVIcharacteristicmakesthesituationmore
complicated.InhisthoroughsurveyofhistoricallaboratorydataonDCarcs,Dr.Ammerman
andhiscolleaguesobservedgoodagreementbetweenthedatasetsthatcouldreasonably
becompared,anddescribedanequationfortheVoltAmpcharacteristicofthearc:

20

0.534

#7

2,

Inconjunctionwiththevoltagedividerequationfortheequivalentcircuit,thisequation
providesasystemoftwoequationsintwounknowns.Anumericalsolutiontothissystem
canbefoundbyimplementingNewtonsMethod,buttodoso,theequationsmustfirstbe
expressedasfunctionsofourtwounknowns,arcvoltage(Va)andarcresistance(Ra).

Dependingonanappropriateguessfortheinitialvaluesoftheunknowns,thesolutionwill
convergerapidly:

log( V a ) log( R a )
V a ( 20 0534 * Z g ) * I a0 . 12
0 . 12 0 . 88


Ra

Rs

V
V

a
s

log V a V a
Rs Ra

R a

log( 20 0 . 534 * Z g ) log( 20 0 . 534 * Z g

0 . 12
0 . 88

log( V s )

Figure6:SystemforImplementingAmmermanEquation(Zg=ArcGap=90mm)

Usingthismethodatthenodesinthearraywiththehighestandlowestavailablebolted
faultcurrentyieldsarcingcurrentvaluesbetween67%and84%oftheboltedfaultcurrent.
Assumingtheinverterfuseistheclearingdevice,thesevaluesresultinextremelylong
clearingtimesof21to30seconds.Themaxpowermethod,witharcingcurrentassumedto
be50%oftheboltedfaultcurrent,wouldreturnclearingtimesofover100seconds,aworst
casescenariosoimpreciseastobeofverylimitedutility.TheAmmermanrelationship
providesanarcresistancebasedonempiricaldatathatislikelytobeclosertotheactual
value.

Figure7:TimeCurrentCurveofInverterFuse

Arc Length
AnotheradvantageprovidedbyDr.Ammermansworkoverthemaxpowermethodisthe
abilitypredictarccharacteristicsbasedontheestimatedarclength.AsDr.Ammerman
observed,thevoltageacrossanarcisalmostindependentofthearcingcurrentabovea
certaintransitioncurrent,andisproportionaltothelengthofthearc.Thearcresistance
willincreasewithlength,andhencepowerisgreaterinalongerarc.Plotsofarcpowerasa
functionofarcingcurrentareshownbelowfordifferentarcgapsinsidethemaximumpower
envelopeasgivenbyafixedsystemvoltageandresistance:

Figure8:ArcPowerasFunctionArcCurrent

Thesameinformationpresentedintermsofarcresistanceshowshowthepowerinthearc
increasessignificantlywitharclength:


Figure9:ArcResistanceasaFunctionofArcGap

Whiletheactualarclengthisnotexactlythelengthofthegapbetweentheelectrodes,
particularlyforhorizontalarcs,thisgapcanatleastapproximatethelengthofthearcand
shouldbeaccuratelymeasuredgiventherelativelylargechangesinpowerfordifferentarc
lengths.InthecombinerboxesontheSanLuisFarm,thegapbetweenthepositiveand
negativeterminalsisapproximately90mm,muchlargerthanthe32mmthatisoften
assumedforACequipmentinthesamevoltageclass:

Figure10:CombinerBoxArcGap

Incident Energy
Oncethearccurrentandarcingtimehasbeenfound,itisarelativelysimplematterto
computethetotalenergyinthearc.Then,thearccanbetreatedasapointsourceof
radiantenergyandtheenergyincidentonasphericalsurfaceperunitareacanbefoundasa
functionofdistance(D)fromthearc.ThemaximumpowermethodandtheAmmerman
methodbothusethisprinciple.Combiningequations10through12inDr.Ammermans
paper,wecanwritethefollowingequationtoobtainthesphericalenergydensityofthearc
inJoulesperunitofsurfacearea:

TheequationsgivenintheNFPA70EStandardforfindingincidentenergyusingthe
maximumpowermethodare:

0.5

0.01

Thisgivestheincidentenergyatthemaximumpowerpointincaloriesperunitofsurface
area,andcanbewrittenintermsofthesystemquantitiesas:

0.5
0.005 0.5

AsWalshandFontaine[3]havenoted,the0.005factorgivenintheNFPA70Eequationsis
roundedupfrom0.004755,andwecanseethattheAmmermanandmaxpowerequations
areidenticalwhencorrectedforthedifferentunitsofenergy(1calorie=4.184Joules):

1 1
1

0.004755
4 4.184
4

Hencedifferencesinincidentenergyvaluesreturnedbyeachmethodaredueentirelytothe
useofhistoricaldatathatdescribesthenonlinearnatureofarcresistance.

Enclosure Multiplying Factor


Theequationsabovewillyieldanestimatefortheenergyradiatedequallyinalldirectionsby
anarcinopenair.However,wearemostinterestedarcsthatmightdevelopinthecombiner
boxesandattheinverterterminals,asthesearethesystemnodeswheretechniciansare
mostlikelytoberequiredtoperformworkonenergizedparts.Testingperformedbythe
IEEE1584workinggroup[6]onACarcsdemonstratedthattheenergyofanarcinan
enclosurewillreflectofftheinteriorsurfaces,resultinginhigherincidentenergyatthe
openingoftheenclosure.AswrittenintheNFPA70EStandard[7],themaxpowermethod
simplysuggeststheopenairincidentenergybeincreasedbyafactorofthreeforarcsin
enclosuresofanysize.However,usingthe1584dataforthethreeenclosuresizesthatwere
tested,RobertWilkinsdevelopedanequationforestimatingthearcenergyinanenclosure
[5]:

WilkinscomputedtheoptimumvaluesoftheconstantsaandksuchthatEboxmatchedthe
measuredvaluesforthethreeenclosures.AvariableReffcanbedefinedastheradiusofa
diskwhichhasthesameareaastheinnersurfaceareaoftheenclosure.Thisprovidesdata
pointsforeachofthethreeenclosuresizestestedbythe1584workinggroup:(Reff,a)and
(Reff,k).FollowingtheworkofWalshandFontaine[8],wecanusealeastsquares
approximationtoplotaandkasafunctionofReffinordertofindanenergymultiplying
factorforenclosuresizesotherthanthosetested:

Figure11:'k'asaFunctionofEnclosureSize

Figure12:'a'asaFunctionofEnclosureSize

ThecombinerboxesontheSanLuisfarmhaveaninteriorsurfaceareaof2,731in2foranReff
of748.9mm,correspondingtoa=519.84andk=0.35557.Hence,againfromWalshand
Fontaine,wecanfindthemultiplyingfactorfortheconcentratingeffectsofthecombiner
boxas:

4
1.95
1
Comparison of Values between Methods
Finally,withallsystemdatacollectionandforegoinganalysiscomplete,wecancomparethe
valuesreturnedbyeachmethodontheSanLuisfarm.Whilevalueswerecomputedforthe
entirefarm,thetablebelowshowsvaluescomputedatthetwoarrayswheretheavailable
boltedfaultcurrentwashighest(1INVA)andlowest(1INVB).Theavailableboltedfault
currentwasobtainedbybuildingamodelofthearraysusingESAsEasyPowersoftware,
whichwillcomputecurrentsthroughoutthesystembasedonthelengthandDCresistance
oftheconductors.Aspreviouslydiscussed,thesecurrentshavebeenincreasedbya125%
highirradiancefactor,andtheclearingdeviceforallfaultsisassumedtobetheinverter
fuse.

Faultclearingtimesweredeterminedbybuildingtimecurrentcharacteristiccurvesinthe
ESAsoftwarebasedondataprovidedbytheinverterfusemanufacturer.Arcingcurrentand
incidentenergyvalueswerecomputedusingtheequationsandmethodsdescribedabove
usingcustomMatlabfunctions.Intheinterestsofcomparingthesimplifiedmaxpower

methodasgivenintheNFPA70Ewiththemoredetailedanalysisprovidedbytheworkof
Ammerman,WilkesandWalshandFontaine,theincidentenergiesforenclosuresreflect
multiplyingfactorsof3and1.95,respectively:

Figure13:IEValues,MPPandAmmerman

Incomparingtheopenairvaluesatthe2secondclearingtime,weseethattheAmmerman
methodreturnsvaluesofapproximately70%ofthoseyieldedbythemaxpowermethod.While
thisiscertainlynotadramaticdifference,itissignificant,anditjustsohappensthatthethese
valuesareonthedividinglinebetweenaHazardCategory1(PPEratedatminimumof4
cal/cm2)andaHazardCategory2(PPEratedatminimumof8cal/cm2).Whenweapplythe
respectiveenclosuremultiplyingfactorstotheopenairvaluesat2seconds,thevaluesdiverge
evenmore,withthemoredetailedmethodreturningvaluesofapproximately45%ofthemax
powermethod.Andfinally,whenweaccountfortheactualclearingtimeasdeterminedbythe
inverterfuse,thedifferencebetweenmethodsisasmuchasafactoroften.Theextremelyhigh
incidentenergyvaluesreturnedbythemaxpowermethodwhendeterminingtheclearingtime
fromonehalfoftheboltedfaultcurrentareessentiallymeaningless,sincethereisnoevidence
tosuggestthatthethisistheactualarcingcurrent.However,takingthearcingcurrentreturned
bytheAmmermanmethodasamoreaccurateguess,westillfindverylongclearingtimes,
resultinginincidentenergyvaluesabove100cal/cm2atsomenodes,whichisgreaterthanthe
highestratedflashsuitavailable.

SectionB.1.2inAnnexBoftheIEEE1584[5]Standardallowsfortheuseof2secondsasthe
maximumclearingtime,basedentirelyontheideathatapersonexposedtoanarcflashwill
moveawayquicklyifitisphysicallypossible,andthisprincipleisgenerallyaccepted
throughouttheindustry.However,asnotedinthe1584Standard,apersonwhoisinabucket
truckorapersonwhohascrawledintoequipmentwillrequiremoretimetogetaway.There
areatleasttwosignificantproblemswiththisprinciple:first,howdowereasonablyquantify
howmuchmoretimeisenoughtimeforworkerswhoareworkinginanonoptimalposition?
Second,itisnotuncommonforvictimsofarcflashesandblaststobeknockedunconsciousand
hencebeincapableofmovingawayfromthearc.Further,ifsystemconditionsarefoundtobe
suchthatclearingtimesarelikelytobeinexcessof2seconds,thisisaseriousdesigndeficiency
thatcouldresultincatastrophicdamagetoequipmentaswellasposingahazardtoworkers.

Conclusions
PotentialincidentenergyontheDCbusoftheSanLuisSolarFarmatworkeraccessiblenodes
ascomputedbythetwomethodsishighenoughtomeritconcern,andinsomecasesmaybe
abovethelevelthatcanrealisticallybemitigatedbyPPE.Asexpected,thesemiempirical
Ammermanmethodreturnslowerincidentenergyvaluesinallcases.

Itisimportanttonoteagainthatthemethodsusedtoobtainthevaluespresentedinthispaper
aresuggestedbytheNFPA70EStandard,andthatthereiscurrentlynocodifiedmethodology
basedonempiricaltestresultsforcomputingDCarcenergies,suchastheIEEE1584standard
forACsystems.Further,widedeploymentofutilityscalephotovoltaicarraysisarelatively
recentdevelopment,sothereisadearthofrecordedincidentsonsolarfarmsfromwhichto
drawconclusionsaboutthelikelihoodandpotentialseverityofarcflashesandblastsontheDC
bus.Assuch,goodengineeringjudgmentandaconservativeapproachshouldbetakenin
evaluatingDCarcflashhazardsuntilcomprehensivetestingcanbeconducted.

Thatsaid,requiringworkerstodonoverlyburdensomeprotectivegearcanlowerproductivity,
limitmovementandvisionandevenpotentiallyincreasethechancesofinitiatingafault.Given
theconsistencyofthehistoricaldatapresentedbyDr.Ammermanandhiscoauthors,itis
reasonabletousethemethodpresentedinthatpaperasalessconservativeandlikelymore
accurateapproach.Further,theabilitytocomputearcingcurrentandhencearcingtimeisa
majorimprovementoverthemaximumpowermethod.

AvailablefaultcurrentsontheSanLuisfarmarerelativelylowcomparedtothosefoundinAC
systemssincetheyareessentiallyredirectedlinecurrents,soincidentenergyvaluesforshort
durationfaultswillbecorrespondinglylow.WhiletheGroundFaultProtectiveDeviceshould

detectmostlowimpedancefaultsonthearrayandoperateveryquickly,itisonlycapableof
disconnectingthearrayfromtheinverterandthepositivepoleofthearrayfromearthground.
Undercertainconditions,theGFPDmaynotinterrupttheflowoffaultcurrentandtheinverter
fusewouldhavetobetheclearingdevice.Inthesecases,thelowfaultcurrentcouldleadto
longclearingtimesandcorrespondinglyhighincidentenergy.Decidingtousethe2second
ruleoranyclearingtimeotherthanthatgivenbythetimecurrentcharacteristicsofthe
inverterfuseisproblematicandshouldbedoneonlyaftercarefulconsiderationofthetasks
thatmaybeperformedonenergizedequipment.

Future Work
ThereisalotofuncertaintyinherentinanyArcFlashStudy,eventhoseconductedonAC
systemsusingtheempiricalformulasgivenbytheIEEE1584Standard,butthatuncertaintyis
greaterhere.Thereisaneedforcomprehensivetestinginahighpowerlabunderavarietyof
testsetups.Inparticular,attemptsshouldbemadetocreatefreeburningarcswhentheDC
voltageisrelativelyhigh(600V1000V)andtheavailablefaultcurrentisrelativelylowinorder
duplicatetheconditionsfoundonatypicalphotovoltaicarray.Further,itisgenerallyassumed
thatDCarcswillbelesssusceptibletoselfextinctionthanACarcssincetherearenozero
crossings;investigationintowhetherlongdurationarcscanbesustainedattheserelativelylow
faultcurrentswouldbevaluable.

Whilethereisarapidlygrowingselectionoffusesdesignedspecificallyforphotovoltaic
applications,andreducingclearingtimeswithjudiciousfusechangesmaybeapossibility,it
seemslikelythatlowfaultcurrentsrelativetonominalcurrentswillcontinuetomake
traditionaltimeovercurrentdevicesproblematiconsolarfarms.Investigationintonovel
systemprotectionsschemesbeyondtimeovercurrentandgroundfaultdevicescouldbe
fruitful.Differentialrelayingandfiberopticlightdetectorsaremethodsthathavebeenusedin
otherapplicationsandmightbeappliedhere.However,itisinterruption,ratherthandetection,
thatisthemainproblem.Whatisneededisaninterruptingdeviceinserieswiththeinverter
fusesthatcanbeopenedbasedonatripsignalfromwhateverovercurrentdetectionschemeis
used.

References
[1]DCArcModelsandIncidentEnergyCalculations,Ammerman,Gammon,Sen,Nelson,2009
[2]ArcFlashCalculationsforExposurestoDCSystems,DanielR.Doan,2007
[3]TheotherElectricalHazard:ElectricArcBlastBurns,RalphH.Lee,1982
[4]TheGroundFaultProtectionBlindSpot:ASafetyConcernforLargerPhotovoltaicSystemsIn
theUnitedStates,BillBrooks,2012
[5]SimpleImprovedEquationsforArcFlashHazardAnalysis,RobertWilkins,2004
[6]GuideforPerformingArcFlashHazardCalculations,IEEE15842002,2002
[7]StandardforElectricalSafetyintheWorkplace,NFPA70E,2012
[8]DCArcFlashCalculationsArcinOpenAir&ArcinaBoxUsingaSimplifiedApproach
(MultiplicationFactorMethod),MichaelFontaineandPeterWalsh,2012

Acknowledgements
IwouldliketothankMr.SimmsandDr.Collinsfortheirguidancethroughoutthesemesterand
fortheirpatienceasIslowlylearnedthebackgroundmaterialnecessaryforunderstandingthis
subject.IwouldalsoliketothankJohnKolakforhisconstantoptimismandtireless
encouragementwhenitwasmostneeded.

Appendix A: Abbreviations
IEEE:InstituteofElectricalandElectronicsEngineers
NFPA:NationalFireProtectionsAssociation
SCC:ShortCircuitCurrent
IE:IncidentEnergy
TCC:TimeCurrentCurve
XFMR:PowerTransformer

Appendix B: Project Costs


Travel:
2tripstoAlamosafordatacollection.255mileseachway
At$0.555/mi(gsa.gov)
255*4*$0.555=$566.10
Researchpapercosts:
$10eachfromIEEEexplore
6totalfor$60
Edaysposter:
$20
Totalexpenses:$646.10

Appendix C: Additional Materials

Figure14:SunpowerPVModule


Figure15:InverterFuseCurve


Figure16:StringFuseCurve