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Sunergise Installations Survive Cyclone Winston

Sunergise solar installations (and other correctly installed solar arrays) have survived Fiji’s Tropical Cyclone Winston. Tropical Cyclone Winston is the strongest cyclone to make landfall in the South Pacific Basin in recorded history. The recorded maximum wind speed was 306km/h.

On February 20th Sever Tropical Cyclone Winston a Category 5 cyclone passed through Fiji causing an estimated US$1 billion in damage and the loss of 44 lives. Over 30,000 homes were damaged or destroyed and roughly 40% of Fiji’s population were significantly impacted.

Solar PV systems are utilised throughout Fiji and particularly off-grid for the many islands not serviced by utility grids. Correct engineering design of PV array frames and associated structures (including buildings for roof mount) for cyclonic loading generally faired well in the extreme conditions.

Estimated 1 minute sustained winds in the eye area were 285 km/h (79 m/s or 154 knots) with a recorded maximum wind gust of 306 km/h ( 85m/s or 165 knots). TC Winston was the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in the South Pacific Basin in recorded history and one of the strongest ever worldwide.

Bruce Clay, Managing Director of Clay Energy, commented that with recorded gusts of up to 85m/s it would be expected that the wind speeds experienced by some PV installations close to the eye exceeded their design wind speeds by up to 20%. Despite these extreme wind speeds minimal damage was seen on correctly engineered arrays (and buildings) based on AS/NZ1170.2:2011 and the current Fiji Building Code with a regional wind speed of Vr 70m/s (3 second gust) and use of site specific exposure multiplier.

See the full story here in the SEIAPI April newsletter.

Lachlan McPherson