Solar Farm Destroyed by Baseball Sized Hail

Solar Farm Destroyed by Baseball Sized Hail

A solar farm in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, was severely damaged by hailstones the size of baseballs. The powerful hail shattered a majority of the panels in the 5.2-megawatt solar project, leaving only a few unaffected panels, resembling missing teeth in a white smile.

Kevin Spencer, the city manager of Scottsbluff, stated that the solar farm appears to be completely destroyed upon initial inspection. While some equipment at the farm may have survived the storm, Spencer emphasized that a solar farm encompasses more than just the panels. He mentioned that previous information indicated the panels were hail-proof, but that might have referred to hail up to a certain size.

Jason Bloomberg, a Cheyenne physician and renewable energy advocate, shared his experience with hail impacts on his own solar panels, which have remained undamaged over the years. The panels he purchased were demonstrated to resist hail damage by withstanding baseball impacts from a cannon and even being driven over by a pickup truck.

Bloomberg suspects that the Scottsbluff panels were hit by large hailstones propelled by high winds, exceeding their hail resistance limits. The region in southeast Wyoming, according to Day, experiences some of the highest frequencies of hailstorms in the country, making it a "ground zero" for such events. On average, there are seven to nine hailstorms per year, ranging from pea-sized to baseball-sized hail.

Isaac Miller, an insurance writer for Allstate in Cheyenne, explained that the elevated hail risk in the area leads to higher insurance premiums. Insuring outdoor property in Wyoming, he noted, is generally expensive due to the prevailing conditions.

Grant Otten, a media relations specialist for Nebraska Public Power District, stated that the damage at the solar farm is currently being assessed. Although the panels are designed to withstand hail, the exceptional size and destructiveness of the hailstones on Friday exceeded their capacity to withstand damage.  Read article

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