Roof-top solar panels were burned at the Taipei Water Department at 2pm on July 27th. It was an autoignition. Temperatures in Taipei reached 38.5 degrees Celsius that day. The preliminary cause of the fire was overheating of the electric cord.
Taiwan media reports say the burned solar panels were built on the roof-top at the Taipei Water Department, which were activated in October 2009. It was the first roof-top demonstration project in Taiwan, using 1,176 pieces of PV modules, with the total capacity reaching 258.72kW. It’s capable to generate 200MWh of electricity in average every year. PV modules were manufactured by DJ Solar. The warranty lasted till April 2015.
According to reports, there were 35 pieces of PV modules damaged during the fire, losing about NT$ 3 million. Fortunately, no one injured. The system was closed down during the fire for safety concern.
Silicon panels can tolerate high temperature, the fire cause is still under investigation
DJ Solar has already sent experts to check and confirm the model type of burned solar panels, according to Liberty Times. DJ Solar indicated that solar panel itself is made of high-temperature silicon material and is unlikely to be burned due to overheating. It’s more likely to be a short circuit.
Solar panel made of silicon material can tolerate high temperature up to 200 degrees, according to Bin-Juine Huang, a senior professor of the department of mechanical engineering at the National Taiwan University. Even if the product quality is poor, autoignition is not likely to happen due to hot weather. In addition, solar panels are equipped with a power control. Power will automatically go off under a short circuit to avoid large-scale fire.
“There is a standard for PV solar installation. We will try our best to understand the cause of the fire in order to see if it’s just case-by-case or a potential crisis for the industry as a whole. We will review whether an adjustment is needed to strengthen security,” said Chuan-Neng Lin, Head of Bureau of Energy Ministry of Economic Affairs. On the other hand, Taipower immediately announced to conduct a security check on all residential PV installations.
EnergyTrend believes that overheating may only reduce the efficiency of silicon solar panels. It’s very unlikely for panels to be burned by sunshine. However, if there is regular maintenance, risks may be reduced greatly. The warranty of the system at the Taipei Water Department has passed a long time ago, which indirectly shows the importance between system maintenance and security.
(Photo Credit: DJ Solar)