Video Shows Solar Panels On Roof In Netherlands Burning, Destroying Three Apartments

If you own solar panels on your home, you may want to keep an eye on them in hot weather. In Holland, some caught fire and caused “enormous” damage to three apartment units.

297.nl here reports how solar panels on a new apartment building caught fire and destroyed three of the units last Thursday afternoon, after they had apparently overheated.

Hat-tip. Hajo

According to 297.nl, Ffre fighters were called in Vinkeveen after smoke had been detected at a roof. The solar panels “were probably overloaded” by the heat and so “caught fire”. Fortunately nobody was injured, yet the damage was “enormous”.

Toxic fumes

Yesterday I wrote here about how toxic cadmium leaching at landfills from old discarded solar panels could pose a serious environmental threat.

One reader also mentioned that fumes from cadmium containing materials could be a hazard, especially when undergoing intense heat treatments such as welding.

Could fumes from intense fires involving solar panels also pose a risk, especially for fire fighters such as those in Vinkeveen last Thursday? Granted the heat from welding is much higher than that we’d see in a regular fire. The answer appears to be yes. Nick Gromicko at Internachi.org here wrote:

Solar panels and batteries contain toxic chemicals that may be released in a fire and are dangerous if inhaled.”

Toxic stew gets carried off like storm water

What I found a bit peculiar, though no fault of the firefighters, is how the contaminated water that extinguished the flames simply ran down into the rain gutters. The potentially toxic stew then just apparently gets carried off into the storm water runoff system and dumped into the environment.

Stormwater runoff is the fastest growing source of pollution to our local waterways,” says the Deleware Department of Transportation here.

 

16 responses to “Video Shows Solar Panels On Roof In Netherlands Burning, Destroying Three Apartments”

  1. John F. Hultquist

    Thus, we have distributed toxic elements and chemicals as a consequence of distributed green energy.
    Priceless!

  2. spike55

    As some of this so-called “renewable” technology ages, this sort of incident will happen more and more often.

    As you say, John, we now have a large system of distributed toxic materials that are going to take one heck of a lot of tidying up.!

    At taxpayer expense of course.

    And the pollutants are far worse than a bit of isolated sulphates and nitrates etc that might get passed the filters of a modern coal fired plant. And they have been brought into the urban and rural environment.. DOH !!!

    1. John F. Hultquist

      Good point:
      NIMBY – Not In My Backyard
      Ironic. These are the very types I don’t want to live near.

    2. Yonason
  3. RegGuheert

    Not only do string inverters pose a fire hazard, they also pose an electrocution hazard due to the presence of high-voltage DC on the roof. Newer building codes reduce the dangers to people and structures, but it is still present.

    Microinverters, OTOH, do not pose similar risks. Unfortunately, the presence of string inverters in the marketplace has made firefighters cautious about fighting fires during the daytime on ANY houses containing solar panels. Even the bright lights used while fighting fires at nighttime can create high voltages in string-inverter-based PV systems.

    Most European PV installations use string inverters from Germany, while microinverter from Enphase in the US and hybrid systems from a company called SolarEdge in Israel are prevalent elsewhere.

    Enphase has some good press regarding the dangers of string inverters:

    https://enphase.com/en-us/products-and-services/microinverters/vs-string-inverter

    Their video showing the dangers of a high-voltage DC arc fault makes the fire risk of string inverters very clear.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKtmPMjrbVA

    While SolarEdge also puts high voltage on the roof, their approach may effectively eliminate the added risk.

    I’m a big van of photovoltaics. That said, there are drawbacks, just like with any technology. I’m not sure some of the bigger issues (like the amount of lead found in the glass in the panels) have even been discussed here. Maybe they have. But I will contend that photovoltaics are the best solution for many applications, even many here on Earth.

    But I’m not sure that putting them on rooftops in the Netherlands or Germany makes sense with the current state of the technology. In general, as you move further from the equator, solar makes less and less sense. The extreme case is at the poles, where it has no use during solar winter.

    We need to apply photovoltaics where they make the most sense first and even in those cases roll them out slowly so that best practices can be established. Unfortunately, government subsidies greatly distort the application of this technology, just as they distort the markets for any product they are applied to.

    1. John F. Hultquist

      I will contend that photovoltaics are the best solution for many applications

      In the US, at Mt. Rainier National Park (I assume other NPs) solar has been installed in a few places. One is at 6,400 feet — Sunrise area.
      Diesel has been trucked up there for years, and it makes noise.
      The road is open from early July to mid-October (or not), so this fits to the high sun season.
      I need to check to see if they are done. I’ve not been up since last October when snow chased our trail crew out.

      Installation is at this spot: 46.914557, -121.643874

      Zoom and see where construction material is within an older stockade — behind the NP Visitor Center. Existing generators are 720 m. to the WNW.

  4. Yonason

    “Yesterday I wrote here about how toxic cadmium leaching at landfills from old discarded solar panels could pose a serious environmental threat.” – Pierre

    Cars must be recalled, but solar panels must proliferate. Consistency isn’t their strong point.

    tomOmason has an interesting comment on PV related heavy metal toxicity, here.
    http://notrickszone.com/2018/05/23/new-study-solar-module-owners-sitting-on-a-pile-of-hazardous-lead-and-cadmium/#comment-1263373

  5. Yonason

    Aha, here is a more comprehensive report on the fire hazard.

    NOTE – If an activist troll points out that “fires are rare,” you need to keep in mind that some fires are more likely than others.

    Hundreds of thousands of solar panels are at risk of setting roofs on fire because of an electrical fault, Dutch authorities and media warned Tuesday, with 15 roof fires already reported in Europe.

    Now-bankrupt Scheuten Solar Systems has reportedly sold at least 650,000 of its “Multisol” panels in Europe and 15,000 in the Netherlands.

    Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2013-02-dutch-roof-solar-panels.html

  6. RegGuheert

    I see you have covered the issue of lead here:

    http://notrickszone.com/2018/05/23/new-study-solar-module-owners-sitting-on-a-pile-of-hazardous-lead-and-cadmium/

    Nice work. I stand corrected.

  7. Ric Werme

    I’m intrigued with what was actually burning on the roof. What looked initially like ceramic tile above the PV panels doesn’t appear to be so. Could they be fiberglass or metal over foam?

    Whatever they are, were they removed when the PV panels went up?

  8. SebastianH

    Yesterday I wrote here about how toxic cadmium leaching at landfills from old discarded solar panels could pose a serious environmental threat.

    How much cadmium is contained in typical rooftop solar cells? In case you don’t remember, you correctly wrote this:

    Not only VW’s electric cars may have a problem with toxic metals, but so do thin-film solar panels.

    Now, how many thin-film solar panels are on roof tops? What is the overall percetange of thin-film solar panels?

    And it’s not like the amount of toxic stuff gets constantly reduced (in batteries as well as thin-film solar cells):
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960148111001248

    What I found a bit peculiar, though no fault of the firefighters, is how the contaminated water that extinguished the flames simply ran down into the rain gutters.

    I don’t know where you live, but in the EU it is pretty rare that a new house gets build without a connection to the city drain system, not even rain water gets past this system.

    1. spike55

      “not even rain water gets past this system.”

      So where does it all end up, seb?

      Not near you, so it doesn’t matter, does it.

    2. Adam Gallon

      Oh boy. Seb’s a real [snip – that word is not acceptable here]. Has no understanding of how a sewage system works.

      1. SebastianH

        Adam,
        cities usually have mixed systems where everything goes through the sewage plant, villages (can) have separate drainage for rain water. What are you referring to?

  9. John F. Hultquist

    … a connection to the city drain system …

    I’ve no idea what the above means in the EU.

    In the region where we live, infiltration basins, retention basins, and detention basins are incorporated into urban development plans.

    Zoom in at this location: 46.981191, -120.533045
    This one will have a pond after a significant rain, then a low flow into it, and then it slowly dries out – as it appears in the image of 5/28/2017. It is over a metre deep.

    The purpose is so that rainfall/snowmelt do not overwhelm the sewage treatment facilities, thereby sending untreated waste into a river.
    I’ll guess there is great variation in how drainage and waste management works.

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