Electromagnetic Fields Associated with Commercial Solar Photovoltaic Electric Power Generating Facilities
The southwest region of the United States is expected to experience an expansion of commercial solar photovoltaic generation facilities over the next 25 years. A solar facility converts direct current generated by the solar panels to three-phase 60-Hz power that is fed to the grid. This conversion involves sequential processing of the direct current through an inverter that produces low-voltage three-phase power, which is stepped up to distribution voltage (∼12 kV) through a transformer. This study characterized magnetic and electric fields between the frequencies of 0 Hz and 3 GHz at two facilities operated by the Southern California Edison Company in Porterville, CA and San Bernardino, CA. Static magnetic fields were very small compared to exposure limits established by IEEE and ICNIRP. The highest 60-Hz magnetic fields were measured adjacent to transformers and inverters, and radiofrequency fields from 5–100 kHz were associated with the inverters. The fields measured complied in every case with IEEE controlled and ICNIRP occupational exposure limits. In all cases, electric fields were negligible compared to IEEE and ICNIRP limits across the spectrum measured and when compared to the FCC limits (≥0.3 MHz).