The municipal firefighters of Ullum have been working for about an hour-and-a-half to extinguish a fire in the inverters of the Ullum photovoltaic park, owned by Argentinian energy company Genneia.
A minor concern it may be, compared to the tragic loss of life, livelihoods and biodiversity caused by the bushfires still ravaging parts of Australia, but reduced output by PV systems due to smoke haze is an unwelcome bi-product of blazes that have burned at a scale and ferocity never seen before.
Fire safety engineering researchers have demonstrated increasing the gap between the modules of commercial PV arrays and flat roof surfaces is a decisive factor in reducing fire risks. Experiments have identified a critical gap height below which flame spread rate increases significantly.
Scientists from China’s State Key Laboratory of Fire Science have analyzed the combustion behavior of flexible PET-laminated PV panels. They found toxic gases including sulfur dioxide, hydrogen fluoride, hydrogen cyanide and a small amount of volatile organic compounds are released when such a PV system burns.
International data suggests that fires caused by rooftop solar power systems are rare; however, the United States doesn’t centrally track this information – with the National Fire Data Center classifying them in the “other” category.
The picture that Walmart is painting of Tesla/SolarCity installation and O&M practices in its U.S. lawsuit is not a pretty one.
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