Pic credit: solar-combiner-box.com
Pic credit: solar-combiner-box.com
String Combiner Boxes (SCB) are one of the most vital parts of a solar farm. Pic credit: solar-combiner-box.com

Bennie Swanepoel, a Technical Sales Engineer at HellermannTyton, looks into the opportunities that solar technology has created over the years and identifies how clean energy-oriented companies can take this opportunity to create tailor-made solutions for the industry.

In South Africa, the solar radiation level is some of the highest recorded in the world, with some regions averaging more than 2,500 hours per year. If we had the ability to responsibly harness even 1% of the sun’s energy reaching the earth’s surface, we would then be able to open doors to a world of endless opportunities that were previously wiped from the table only as fictitious science fiction.

Science has taught us that the sun is around 150 million km’s from earth, and only eight minutes are necessary for the sun’s rays to cover that distance.

We can measure the sun’s energy and calculate overwhelming possibilities, but even with all the latest technological advances, we are only able to control a fraction of the energy entering our atmosphere.

Despite solar energy being “born” almost 250 years ago, a strong evolution in technology through many lifetimes was necessary to school us in harnessing energy from the sun in a safe and reliable manner.

Renewable energy might indeed be the future for the electricity industry but it is extremely dangerous if not understood and respected.

HellermannTyton develops safe solution for planet and people

It is for this reason that HellermannTyton South Africa got involved in the renewable energy industry, where a holistic understanding for producing safe and clean energy was adopted and transferred into our product offerings. It has been important for us to acknowledge the importance of investing in our planet for future generations to enjoy clean and healthy living.

In the renewable energy sector the String Combiner Boxes (SCB) needed for solar energy, we offer a service, tailor-made to suit the customer’s energy needs. The customer is assisted from the initial enquiry through to the commissioning stage of the solar plant.

SCB’s are one of the most vital parts of a solar farm. Not only do they serve as the entry stage to the farm, but they also house the electronic controller cards, which communicate the most fundamental information to the control room regarding all aspects of the solar generator.

The electrical energy generated by the various solar strings are all combined through the SCB’s, which are designed in a manner as to safely increase the current flow capacity before allowing any flow through to the various inverters.

On receipt of a new enquiry, HellermannTyton does the full design of the SCB, the General Assembly and also the Single Line Diagram. Once approved, a prototype is built by using top of the range and approved safety products, electronic controllers, switchgear and specially designed photovoltaic items all populated and prepared for final installation in a class II double insulated enclosure system.

Safety is key

Due to the fact that a direct current (DC) is generated, the most stringent safety measures have to be adhered to in offering the necessary protection against possible electrical shock or dangerous temperature rises inside these SCB’s.

Class II enclosure systems are non-metal electrical boxes designed specifically to prevent static interferences, dangerous DC power arcing, power leakages through the enclosure body and high temperature rises, which might cause condensation and leakages leading to possible breakdowns and electrical DC fires.

Production of these boxes takes place at a state of the art assembly plant at the HellermannTyton premises in Johannesburg. Both production and assembly are subject to strict safety and quality control schedules throughout the process and after completion, each SCB is thoroughly re-checked and electronically tested.

Deploying reliable equipment

HellermannTyton is deploying its unique technology in projects across the country with its latest being in the final stages of development. The 90MW solar power farm, which is said to be one of the biggest in South Africa will have the capacity to electrify around 70,000 residential houses.

We were responsible for designing and managing the full production process of more than 600 SCB’s and also final delivery to site. In light of our experience, we were requested to further assist through supplies of hundreds of thousands of products needed on site for general installation.

Through our strong international support, we are also able to offer an excellent percentage of local content further adding positive value to the South African economy. HellermannTyton currently also offers our assistance in a growing rooftop solar market, belong to various corporate bodies and thrive to stay abreast with the ever growing technology in Renewable Energy.