Stephen Colvin is Vice President of Marketing for Mersen's North American Electrical Protection interests. His responsibilities comprise management of all aspects of the marketing department including product line management, marketing communications, public relations and market research.

Solar & Wind Power Circuit Protection

Stephen Colvin | Mersen

1. Why did Ferraz Shawmut change its name to Mersen?

Our name change reflects a corporate-wide strategic initiative to unify our vision, product solutions and markets. Over time, we found that our various subsidiaries were catering to the same markets with complementary products solutions. In a global marketplace, it just makes sense to operate under one name. It focuses us all on a common goal. Electricity runs the world, at Mersen our goal is to keep it safe and reliable.
2. How does Mersen serve the Renewable Energy market?

Mersen is a leader in carbon, graphite and circuit protection solutions for the solar and wind power industry. Mersen’s ultra-pure graphite equipment enables manufacturers of polysilicon, the principal component in photovoltaic panels, to increase their efficiency while cutting their costs. We also offer a dedicated range of protection components specially designed for solar and wind power generation and distribution including, fuses, fuse holders, wire management solutions, disconnect switches, and surge protective devices. 
3. How exactly is Mersen a leader in the solar & wind power circuit protection?

One example of our leadership in the industry is that early on, Mersen invested countless resources and expertise toward helping to develop the proper codes, standards and products needed by this emerging industry. Research prepared by Mersen, delivers a higher level of understanding for solar photovoltaic system behavior, potential fault conditions and how to prevent these same fault conditions from damaging installations.
4. Which new Underwriters Laboratories product standard defines the performance characteristics for fuses to be installed in photovoltaic systems?

UL 2579, officially titled “Fuses for Photovoltaic Systems,” was first released as an outline of investigation in December 2007. Since its inception, and with the help of many industry experts including Mersen, UL 2579 is now in its sixth revision which was released in July 2010. Historically, specifying engineers, integrators and installers have been using circuit protection components and solutions that were originally designed for AC power and control applications. Although these products performed as needed they were not necessarily the optimal solution for photovoltaic applications. UL 2579 is a product standard written specifically for fuses intended to be used for photovoltaic circuit protection. This standard makes it easier for users to select the proper products quickly and confidently. It allows fuse manufacturers to obtain a UL Listing on fuses that conform to the standard, even for voltages up to 1500 Volts D-C, which was not possible in the past. Most importantly, fuses listed to UL 2579 will deliver improved product performance and system longevity adding to the overall value of your solar power installation.
5. How is this standard different from that of general purpose fuses?

Unlike general purpose fuses, fuses listed to UL 2579 are subject to additional testing simulating the service environment conditions of photovoltaic installations. There are three new tests that fuses are required to pass within UL 2579. These tests include:
  • Verification of freedom from unacceptable levels of thermally induced drift which tests the fuse interrupting capabilities after exposure to numerous night to day climate transition commonly experienced by components installed in photovoltaic applications;
  • Verification of Functionality at Temperature Extremes, which tests the fuse interrupting capabilities at the hottest and coldest anticipated temperature extremes of a typical photovoltaic installation; and,
  • Current Cycling which tests the fuse reliability and longevity when subject to constant change in temperature and various current loads that would typically be experienced in photovoltaic applications.
6. Are these standards included in building codes at this time or are they guidelines only?
At this time, UL Standard 2579 is considered an Outline of Investigation. An outline is a collection of requirements based upon UL’s investigations and it is the first step toward the development of an official standard. By rule, outlines serve as guidelines in UL’s investigations for the product categories indicated. It is up to the discretion of the UL inspector to enforce these guidelines, but until it is released as an official standard, UL 2579 will act as a guideline only.  
7. Where do you see the greatest growth in demand for your products in the Alternative Energy Industry?
In this sector we are excited about the continued strength in the solar market. The market has enjoyed double digit growth and that growth rate is forecasted to continue. The number of end-use system applications is growing with an increase in demand for residential, commercial, industrial and utility scale projects. Also, as the solar power market evolves, it gives us the opportunity to innovate and develop new products and services tailored specifically to this market segment making it a very attractive market to Mersen.
8. Can you predict where growth will be coming from over the next few years both geographically as well as by market segment (i.e. Solar, Wind etc.)?
Again, Mersen has identified the solar power market as a focus global vertical market segment. We foresee high growth potential in North America, Europe and Asia. The western United States has been the leader for PV installations in North America but our market research has identified emerging markets on the East Coast and Midwest regions of the US as well as Canada. The European market continues to be world’s largest market for solar power installations. European feed-tariffs and rebates fuel the regions growth.

 Stephen Colvin is Vice President of Marketing for Mersen’s North American Electrical Protection interests. His responsibilities comprise management of all aspects of the marketing department including product line management, marketing communications, public relations and market research.

Colvin previously spent 14 years at ABB Inc. as Director of Product Management. He holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Longwood University, a Master of Science in electrical engineering from the University of Virginia and a Master of Business Administration from Midwestern State University.
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

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