Whether you are an environmentalist, an economist or simply a pragmatist at heart, there can be no arguing that it makes the utmost sense to utilize naturally occurring resources whenever possible – this has been the story of the evolution of man. Even the historical use of fossil fuels and nuclear reactions to derive the majority of our energy demands, could be said to be making use of natural resources.
Whether you believe in global warming and the “Greenhouse Gas” theory or not, the reality is that the use of fossil fuels has a finite lifetime and politicians in many countries have taken the responsible approach and committed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 60% in the next 40 years or so. Fossil fuels are projected to become scarce in similar time frames, and so the attention has focused to the pragmatic task of harnessing nature’s resources once again, in the form of wind, wave, tide, photovoltaic, geothermal, biomass and fuel cell technology to obtain the majority of our electrical supplies.
The obvious advantage of these sources of energy are that they have been largely unused and being the result of natural processes, clean and sustainable. The main drawback to these forms of renewable energy are the enormous costs of installing the required infrastructure, at a sufficient scale to be cost-effective due to the relatively low energy density of these sources, and of course the long payback times on these investments. Given the emergent nature of many of these technologies, achieving cost parity with other forms of power generation will be a key step forwards.
Given the extremely remote or even underwater locations of many of the best installation sites, bringing the generated energy into the existing grid networks is a challenge, the erratic levels of power generation create storage and transmissions issues, and the long lifetimes of facilities required for payback, coupled with remote locations make reliability a key issue.
These challenges are predicted to result in the development and wide use of highly efficient, reliable power converters or inverters, in generation, distribution and end-user systems. In addition, the advanced measurement, monitoring and control/communication systems, vital to the efficient and remote monitoring of individual generators and entire sites will all be driven by ever more advanced electronics.
However, these assemblies will continue to be placed in ever more remote and demanding applications and end-use environments, where the risk of degradation in performance, due to extraneous factors such as high humidity, salt-spray, corrosive gases, rain ingress and other drivers of corrosion will continue to increase rapidly.
These electronic assemblies and industrial computers continue to become an increasingly sophisticated and important aspect of both the functionality and reliability of modern renewable energy generation systems.
The costs of failure and the competitive need to provide longer warranties and greater levels of reliability, drive the need to increase the Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) to the maximum possible duration.
Selection of the correct conformal coating is becoming an important methodology, tested, specified and requested by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and used by EMS suppliers to prevent corrosion and degradation of assemblies in use, thus maximizing reliability and minimizing warranty claims due to extraneous corrosion. With the requirement to use lead-free assemblies, renewable energy electronics as a fledgling segment, has much work to do to ensure sufficient levels of reliability can be designed or engineered into their systems.
With the increasing adoption of Silver, both as a solderability finish and as part of a typical SAC (Tin, Silver Copper) alloy (Required by WEEE Initiative), and it’s known susceptibility to creep corrosion and other electrochemically driven corrosion processes, this can result in expensive field failures, especially in the harsh marine, coastal and other remote rural installation sites.
Conformal Tech partners with leading suppliers of conformal coatings to the renewable energy controls industry for inverter, junction box, communication and measurement devices and with the widest range of highest performance conformal coatings, from every major type of protective chemistry, including Acrylic, Urethane and Silicone, you can be certain that Conformal Tech has a high-performance solution for your specific application.