Solar Panel Fire Destroys Multi-story Building Roof

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t Man BearPig – A massive fire has ripped through a new building development in London, thankfully untenanted and still under construction. Witnesses suggest the fire appears to have been concentrated around the building’s solar panels.

Large blaze breaks out at brand new block of £1million flats in East London ‘after solar panels catch fire’

  • Flames engulfed roof of Bow Wharf building near Bethnal Green in East London
  • Eyewitness said that the property’s solar panels appeared to have caught fire
  • He told MailOnline: ‘Half the roof is either burned away or collapsed’
  • By Scott Campbell For Mailonline

    PUBLISHED: 21:00 +10:00, 2 July 2017 | UPDATED: 02:26 +10:00, 3 July 2017

    A large blaze broke at a brand new block of flats in East London this afternoon with witnesses claiming the building’s solar panels appeared to have caught fire.

    The trendy ‘residential waterside development’ – which is still under construction – contains five houses and 19 apartments which were set to sell for as much as £1million each.

    One eyewitness who lives opposite the flats told MailOnline: ‘Half the roof is either burned away or collapsed.

    ‘They’ve got a crane with the hose on the flames. They struggled slightly at first with access because it’s right beside Regent’s Canal.

    ‘I noticed massive billows of smoke when I was leaving my flat so I quickly rushed back and noticed it was the building opposite.

    ‘It’s the new block of flats that’s been under construction for quite a while now.

    The spread seemed concentrated around the solar panels on the top. It looked a bit like the solar panels were on fire.

    ‘Originally I thought the flames were coming from one of the nearby high rise blocks but then I realised it’s a new build that’s not finished yet so that was a relief.

Read more:

This is not the first time rooftop solar panels have been implicated in a building fire. Solar panels are a known hazard for fire fighters;

Fire service raises solar panels shock concerns

9 May 2013

Fire crews in Devon and Somerset have been warned by bosses to be careful of solar panels at emergency scenes in case they get electric shocks.

Speaking about its new guidance, the service said: “The main hazard to be aware of is that the system can remain live even after it has been isolated, presenting the potential for an electric shock.

“There is also the danger of damaged solar panels falling from the roof.

“At incidents of every nature, the incident commander will carry out a risk assessment to ensure that all the potential hazards are taken into account to bring the incident to a safe conclusion.”

Read more:

While it hasn’t been confirmed solar panels played a role in this fire, it is certainly plausible. When the sun is shining the power produced by solar panels is substantial, more than enough to start or potentially accelerate a fire – especially if that power is concentrated through a short circuit caused by incorrectly connected wires, wires damaged by vermin, or a simple short circuit triggered by defective components.

Solar panels usually contain substantial quantities of extremely toxic metals such as cadmium, lead and arsenic – so it seems likely that burnt panels may present a toxic dust environmental hazard after a major fire.

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Science or Fiction
July 2, 2017 3:01 pm

“While it hasn’t been confirmed solar panels played a role in this fire, it is certainly plausible.”
This is more speculative than climate alarmism.

Reply to  Science or Fiction
July 2, 2017 3:29 pm

I agree. Hard to believe such nonsense would be presented here.

Reply to  rd50
July 2, 2017 11:48 pm

Sadly, it’s not hard to believe. It’s par for the course. There are many here who just can’t wait for facts in their rush to attack wind and solar, which they oppose for other reasons.
Just look at the headline Eric Worral put on this :
Solar Panel Fire Destroys Multi-story Building Roof
Totally unsubstantiated BS.
This is degenerating into the kind of fact-free, partisan politics that this site has so effectively attacked for the last decade under Anthony’s steady guidance.

Reply to  rd50
July 3, 2017 12:03 am

It is a “plausible” possibility but turning that into a clear statement of fact is BS. This is what alarmists have been doing for decades : “temperatures WILL rise by up to 5 degrees … etc. etc”. WUWT has always been about FACTS and science. not twisted speculation to support a prejudiced opinion. Nto a good development.

Reply to  rd50
July 3, 2017 12:20 am

Large solar panels produce a boilerplate of about 250W and have heavy duty wires to minimise resistive losses. You can quite safely short circuit a PV panel in plain midday sun.
Also not the when you short them they do not even produce max power anyway.
If there is a cabling fault further down the line where output of several panels come together then that is just an incompetent electricians work. This can not be be blamed on “solar energy”.

Bob in Castlemaine
Reply to  rd50
July 3, 2017 12:57 am

As an Aussie fire fighter I note we are warned of the dangers of solar panels during fires. Just as the recent catastrophic impact of incendiary planet saving reflective panels on high-rise housing in London has become all too clear because of cladding which was, hand-on-heart, said to have been fully tested for fire resistance…. test report XXXXX of the Outer Mongolian building test station no doubt. What do you believe when brownie points seeking bureaucrats want to save a quid. How much credence should be placed on test data from some obscure (probably Chinese) testing station? I would suggest none!

Reply to  rd50
July 3, 2017 1:37 am

a search finds only 2 fires caused by solar panels in the UK… that’s quite possibly ‘ever’ since the first in 2012 was labelled ‘UK’s first’.
There were half a million homes with solar panels at the start of 2015 (can’t find a recent update).
UK has 12.5 GW of installed solar PV which produced 5.4% of UK electricity last year.

Reply to  rd50
July 3, 2017 4:50 am

I would challenge the
“Solar panels usually contain substantial quantities of extremely toxic metals such as cadmium, lead and arsenic”
comment. Seems sensationalist and speculative at best. I would speculate that one small flat panel monitor or laptop contains MUCH more of those metals. Arsenic? to dope the silicon perhaps – minimal, Lead? Ribbon connection between ’tiles’ lots of soldering. Cadmium? Substantial quantities of cadmium – really – I will look it up but suggest that a nickel cadmium battery, AA size, probably has more cadmium in it than one large solar panel.
It is a pity that such poor articles appear anywhere.

Reply to  rd50
July 3, 2017 6:41 am

It’s not the wires over heating that causes the fire, it’s the arcing that does it.

Ben of Houston
Reply to  rd50
July 3, 2017 11:44 am

I’ll side with Greg on this one. At best this is premature. At worst, it’s just bad reporting. We shouldn’t put this stuff up just because we want to be right.

Mike McMillan
Reply to  rd50
July 5, 2017 7:15 pm

Google search for solar panel fire, images

Reply to  Science or Fiction
July 2, 2017 3:43 pm

Apologies. We will hunt for a computer model that shows graphically how such fires can occur. That should make this legitimate.

Reply to  Sheri
July 2, 2017 11:50 pm

Never mind a computer model but something more attributable than a neighbour seeing “billows” of smoke may be necessary to determine the cause of the fire !

Reply to  Sheri
July 3, 2017 4:51 am


Reply to  Sheri
July 3, 2017 4:55 am

The problem with solar panels is also known in Germany. It is not the solar panels that can fuse, but the transformers, which convert the generated power into direct power. In the event of a fire, whether it is from the solar system or another brand, it is dangerous for the fire department to clear the fire. The best thing is to get rid of the power supply of the subject, which is also only found on the distribution boxes. And most of the time, there are many buildings that in the case of a fire a solar roof are without electricity.
There is, at least Europe-wide, no investigations on the individual fire causes of buildings, so that it can not be said that such a fire often occurs. And the rectifiers (transformers) are the cause. However, in the case of the fire-fighting of a solar roof, the cause of the fire does not matter.

J Mac
Reply to  Science or Fiction
July 2, 2017 3:59 pm

Climate alarmism IS speculative.

Reply to  J Mac
July 3, 2017 12:04 am

Yep, and this site has always opposed that !

Reply to  Science or Fiction
July 2, 2017 4:02 pm

Yeah, right. Must have been that rubber roof membrane material. So it’s “speculative” for an eyewitness to report a fire of solar panels, while you have zero personal knowledge but a strong opinion that this is unlikely. Let’s see now, a large proportion of fires are due to electrical issues, and solar panels produce large amounts of electricity whenever the sun is shining. I wonder what in the world you assume did cause the fire, if not the panels?

Reply to  arthur4563
July 2, 2017 11:51 pm

“What else could it be?”
That’s always a clincher , isn’t it? The same as GW must be caused by CO2. What else could it be?

M E Emberson
Reply to  Science or Fiction
July 2, 2017 4:39 pm

the report is from the Daily Mail… the reporters are the ones to chide, surely

Reply to  M E Emberson
July 2, 2017 10:31 pm

Don’t forget the BBC report on the fire: “Is that true, or did you hear it on the BBC”?

Reply to  M E Emberson
July 3, 2017 12:08 am

That headline did not come from the Daily Mail . Neither did the Mail say the solar panels were the cause of the fire.

Leo G
Reply to  Science or Fiction
July 2, 2017 5:29 pm

Solar panels are usually installed without ground fault detection systems. Such faults are known to occur, particularly in large PV installations. There are also recommendations in Europe and the USA for arc-fault circuit interrupters to protect PV installations.

Reply to  Leo G
July 2, 2017 6:05 pm

Which news outlet has more fake news for the snowflakes? New York Times, Washington Post or the Daily mail?
At least the Daily mail prints lots of Photos backing the story and not round the clock unnamed sources for every Trump bad and every Dem’s good story. Yea the Daily mail is so bad – NOT! At least they are not the Warmist rag of record!

Reginald Vernon Reynolds
Reply to  Leo G
July 2, 2017 8:21 pm

I believe Australia has had quite a few rooftop fires related to government subsidized solar panels.

Reply to  Leo G
July 2, 2017 11:09 pm

Yes about a year ago there was a cluster of around 85 house fires in SE QLD and northern NSW traced back to faulty solar panel components. The company that had installed them immediately went broke and the house owners were left with no financial compensation. There are probably others that I am not aware of. Naturally the story was swept under the carpet.

Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  Science or Fiction
July 3, 2017 12:40 am

Actually, from the pics in the press of this roof fire anyone would conclude that it was the panels that burnt. Visible straight in front of your eyes. Not nearly as ‘speculative’.

Man Bearpig
Reply to  Science or Fiction
July 3, 2017 2:42 am

One thing for certain is that it can be seen from the stills and the video that the Solar Panels were burning and giving off fumes and the whole point is that the fire is mainly concentrated on the solar panels. Tiles don’t usually burn like that.
We just had a tower block of flats burn down in Kensington, London (google Grenfell tower) with at least 80 people killed through smoke inhalation, jumping out of windows or being burned alive. One aspect of the inquiry into the fire is the emphasis being put on using Energy Saving materials used in the cladding.
We do not want any more sacrifices to unsafe materials being used in the building of our homes. So, you carry on politicking whilst people burn in their homes. Luckily, this particular building was not complete, but also not far from completion.

Reply to  Science or Fiction
July 3, 2017 6:39 am

It has happened. Shorts in solar panels are especially dangerous because they use DC rather than AC, which makes any arcs more energetic and harder to break.
I worked for a company a couple of years ago that was designing systems to detect arcs and automatically disconnect the panels. All new panels in the US need to have such equipment installed, and older systems are required to be retro-fitted.

Reply to  Science or Fiction
July 3, 2017 12:44 pm

Could have been a guy smoking under the panels during is lunch break but real unlikely if a plain old roof was installed there would have been a fire.
What’s the economic or environmental break even time for solar panels in London’s famously sunny weather anyway?
40+ years or forever?

July 2, 2017 3:21 pm

Solar panels present several dangers. Firemen won’t go onto a solar panelled roof for fear of electrocution and without the ability to chop a hole in the roof, it is difficult to contain a blaze.
Below the solar panels can be a very hot environment – they can’t be installed too close to the roof.
Of course, this is only a minor reason for not allowing solar rof owners to infect the grid by dumping
often unwanted, and unneeded power onto the grid, and being obliged to pay the solar owner almost retail for the unwelcomed juice. Solar roofs should be prohibited from infecting the grid with their toxic power. It drives up the cost for everyone else, since power from roofs means less from generators, which lowers their capacity and drives up their kWhr prices, which is what I pay. Solar roofs are essentially welfare recipients. Florida has the right attitude : no solar power allowed onto
the grid – only power generators that can be under the control of the grid operator and can produce on demand.

Reply to  arthur4563
July 2, 2017 4:01 pm

Oh my Lord…what drivel!
Nearly every word false.
Florida has net metering by law.
While Florida does not have any rebates like some states, and does not allow third party ownership of solar panels, it does exempt solar devices from sales tax, and requires net metering be available to all customers in the state.
If you produce more than you use, they send you a check.
There is a federal rebate program.
Toxic power?
And here I thought electrons where pretty much all the same.

Reply to  Menicholas
July 3, 2017 6:44 am

As has been discussed elsewhere, the fact that power companies are required to accept solar power when it is offered makes all other forms of electricity generation more expensive since they are forced to run as back-up to the solar generators rather than base load as designed.
Toxic may be over kill, but not by much.

Juan Slayton
July 2, 2017 3:23 pm

…the power produced by solar panels is… more than enough to start…a fire – especially if that power is concentrated through a short circuit caused by incorrectly connected wires, wires damaged by vermin, or a simple short circuit triggered by defective components.
Very true. Also true for any electrical service whatever.
[Name fixed. -mod]

Juan Slayton
Reply to  Juan Slayton
July 2, 2017 3:25 pm

Mods, sorry I misspelled my own name. Don’t know if wordpress will dump the whole comment, but would appreciate a correction in any case.

Another Commenter
Reply to  Juan Slayton
July 3, 2017 6:44 pm

That may be true, but it possible an additional hazard to the fire department because they can’t turn it off. It also provides an additional point of failure but that’s a more minor point.

July 2, 2017 3:33 pm

Solar panels won’t burn, but they do generate electricity when in the sunshine. Electrical fire from the solar installation or just covering an area firefighters couldn’t get to?

jIM a
July 2, 2017 3:33 pm

“This is more speculative than climate alarmism.”
No it is not. Especially if the panels are physically installed and the installation isnt finished and not properly terminated. I’m not going into the details here but all a panel system needs to generate current is sunlight. There’s no ‘switch’.

Reply to  jIM a
July 2, 2017 3:38 pm

Please, as you stated, don’t go into the details.
Just need a panel. Nothing else is important.

Ian W
Reply to  rd50
July 2, 2017 3:51 pm

A search for information returned several detailed safety issues about photovoltaic cells over roofs. For example:

In laboratory-based fire tests of roof assemblies,1, 2 the maximum allowable fire spread is between approximately 20 and 40 ft2 (1.9 and 3.7 m2), depending on whether an A, B or C rating is desired. In actual roof fires with roof-mounted solar panels, fire damage has involved areas of between 1,000 and 183,000 ft2 (93 and 17,000 m2). In the most extreme case the fire spread to the inside and destroyed the entire building (see Fig. 1).

Fire Protection Engineering; Issue 92: Fire Concerns with Roof-Mounted Solar Panels;
Perhaps you do not want to hear the details for some reason?

jIM a
Reply to  rd50
July 2, 2017 3:54 pm

Well, be snarky as you want. The fact it’s a new installation, and fire seemed to start at peak sun raises good possibility electrical short in the panel system started it.
I’m not saying it did… but to rule it out as gross speculation seems rather ‘defensive’

Paul Penrose
Reply to  rd50
July 2, 2017 3:57 pm

You are welcome to clear things up, but your attempt at cloaked sarcasm really does not advance the conversation at all. Jim is correct that solar panels will produce electricity as long as light is falling on them. They have no off switch like an engine and unlike a battery won’t become exhausted even if shorted out. This creates unique challenges, just like EVs, but firefighters and emergency personnel will adapt as they have to all new technologies.

Reply to  rd50
July 2, 2017 4:04 pm

I have heard they have adapted…roll out shades or mats that have magnets and stick to the panels.

Curious George
Reply to  rd50
July 2, 2017 4:13 pm

Install shades without touching solar panels. Thanks God I am not a firefighter.

Michael darby
Reply to  rd50
July 2, 2017 4:18 pm

LOL @ Menicholas……..super special magnets that stick to the aluminum frames. Guess you have no clue what PV panels are made with.

July 2, 2017 3:49 pm

Does the UK have functional building inspectors?

Reply to  commieBob
July 3, 2017 12:46 am

Recent observations suggest not, or perhaps the rules they enforce are rather lax

Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  commieBob
July 3, 2017 12:52 am

Building inspections are based on models and simulations.

Reply to  commieBob
July 3, 2017 6:47 am

The article stated that the building was under construction. It’s possible the inspector hadn’t been out yet.

Scouser in AZ
Reply to  commieBob
July 5, 2017 9:45 am

It’s a lot different from the US system –
For smaller jobs it seems most of the design/conformance is left to the building contractor who must be certified. As far as I can tell, the idea of a specific permit with regular in-process inspections and sign-offs does not exist.

Paul Penrose
July 2, 2017 3:49 pm

While I’m not a fan of PV panels (except for those situations where sunlight is the only viable power source), I am unaware of any data that shows they are a significant fire hazard when installed correctly. Any time you put extra structures on the rooftop (antennas, signs, etc.) you make it more difficult for firefighters, but that’s a risk versus reward decision that cities and building owners make all the time. I don’t see PV panels as being any different in this regard.

Ian W
Reply to  Paul Penrose
July 2, 2017 3:52 pm

Paul, see my comment above

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Ian W
July 2, 2017 4:04 pm

While that is an interesting article about a lab test on rooftop solar panels, it is hardly the kind of data I was referring to. Something to keep an eye on, no doubt, but my original statement stands.

jIM a
Reply to  Paul Penrose
July 2, 2017 4:02 pm

Paul Penrose: key phrase: “…when installed correctly. ,,” is exactly the point.
Then there’s the question concerning mfr quality control. It has caused problems with ‘meltdown’ failure due to bad blocking diodes.
But hey… I guess we will find out.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  jIM a
July 2, 2017 4:07 pm

Just about anything, when not installed correctly, can cause a fire or make a fire worse. Solar panels are no different and I don’t see any point in singling them out in this regard.

Pamela Gray
Reply to  Paul Penrose
July 2, 2017 9:22 pm

If the DIY channel has taught us anything it is that improper installation of just about anything related to a building is a distinct probability. Chances are pretty damn good this was an electrical fire related to installation of panels.

Reply to  Paul Penrose
July 3, 2017 5:02 am

” Any time you put extra structures on the rooftop (antennas, signs, etc.) you make it more difficult for firefighters”
Antennas are under low electricity, so there is no danger in the event of a fire process. I’ve never heard of it. However, solar plants (for electricity generation) have been under discussion in Germany for some time.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Hans-Georg
July 3, 2017 10:46 am

Antennas can physically get in the way. And tall masts/towers could potentially collapse during a fire and injure firefighters. Also, high powered RF can burn flesh and interfere with wireless communications.

James Bull
July 2, 2017 3:50 pm

And what is one of the ads that I got following this post it’s for you guessed it solar panels.
Don’t think I’ll be getting any.
James Bull

Curious George
Reply to  James Bull
July 2, 2017 4:34 pm

Roof solar panels clearly make the task of firemen more dangerous. Let’s call for a regulation requiring at least 1/10 of safety measures required for nuclear power station.
1. Each solar roof installation must have a main switch that safely disconnects all panels.
2. After a disconnection, the voltage between any two points must not exceed 12 V (twelve Volts).
3. The switch must be visible in a thick smoke from a distance of 100 feet at least.
4. The switch must work for at least 15 minutes after the start of the fire.

The Reverend Badger
Reply to  Curious George
July 2, 2017 5:30 pm

Re domestic installs of solar PV:
The electrocution problem arises as the panels are connected in series thus an open circuit voltage of 400V DC is not uncommon. The alternative would be series connection, lower voltage but higher current. Either system is viable with the correct matching design of inverter but the series/Higher V version is easier and cheaper to install as conductor size is smaller. The demands on the connectors for a Low Voltage (parallel) system are higher , you might be talking about 100 Amp plug/socket assembly ! Either that or you run , say, 18 pairs of lower current wires to the inverter and do the parallel connection at the input terminals.Industry chooses the cheapest way of course.
Stand alone off grid PV (often DIY) is probably better as Low voltage as invariably you are going to want to store your leccy for night time too, and usually cheap car batteries are chosen.
Anything electrical can be a cause of fire but it is often poor installation practice. The Amendment 3 to the UK Wiring Regulations stipulated metal cased consumer units instead of plastic ones owing to the fire authorities reporting greatly increased incidences of fires originating in the consumer unit itself DUE TO POOR INSTALLATION. So clearly as the primary cause has not been tackled we will still have fires in consumer units in the UK but at least they will be in metal boxes not plastic ones. This passes for intelligent thinking now.
I speculate that fires from PV installations are most likely due to poor installation however I do not know the methodology for checking for high resistance joints. Do you carry out testing and inspecting with test meters at night (presumably while wearing night vision goggles so as not to fall off the roof)?

Reply to  Curious George
July 2, 2017 11:14 pm

Re#2: It’s not the voltage that kills, it’s the amperage.

Reply to  Curious George
July 3, 2017 12:51 am

An alternative to all this DC wiring is micro invertors on each panel, so all reticulation is in the standard AC level for the location, with the usual protections.

Reply to  Curious George
July 3, 2017 6:50 am

It’s amperage that kills, but you need voltage to drive the amps.
12V is can’t push enough electrons through your body to hurt you.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Ulaanbaatar
July 2, 2017 5:18 pm

If there is a small gap of 4 inches or so between panels and the roofing material, there is a good chance that the fire will spread faster once it gets going under the panels. The panels will serve to contain the fire and spread it much more rapidly in that gap than would be the case otherwise. If it is sloped (very likely) then the draft created would channel the flames upwards rapidly like a chimney.
Whatever started the fire, it was probably spread rapidly because of the containment of the flames between the roofing and the panels, fanned by the buoyancy of the draft.

July 2, 2017 5:19 pm

At least they were able to fight this fire. If your Tesla battery ignites in a crash or submersion and you do not have a very large supply of water, advice is to call a hazmat team, maintain a 50ft cordon and let it burn itself out for up to 24 hrs….then warn the second responders that the battery may reignite spontaneously.

The Reverend Badger
Reply to  Betapug
July 2, 2017 5:42 pm

Submersion without a supply of water? Which planet has Elon taken you to now?

Reply to  The Reverend Badger
July 2, 2017 11:58 pm

Drain on the side of a country road.
It might only have a couple feet of water in it, not enough to put out a Tesla fire.
Next question ?

July 2, 2017 5:31 pm

My thought; ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!
Oh my! Do love the feeling of schadenfreude…

July 2, 2017 5:55 pm

So, accidents happen, and exceptional circumstances should not be exploited to construct a generalization? Not to spread irrational fear? Since when?
This must be a new standard that was conceived with a renewed interest in green, renewable drivers and the progress of gray, non-renewable anthropogenic converters.

Tom in Florida
July 2, 2017 6:20 pm

Perhaps it’s just a cast of jewish lightning.

July 2, 2017 6:20 pm

Solar panels generally don’t contain much arsenic or cadmium – where did the idea they do come from? As for lead – only if leaded solder is used.

Reply to  Donald L. Klipstein
July 2, 2017 6:37 pm

Donald, Worrall doesn’t know the difference between thin film and crystalline panels.

Chuck Wortman
July 2, 2017 6:34 pm

Fake news. Trump supporters. Always looking for the exception to the rule

I Came I Saw I Left
Reply to  Chuck Wortman
July 3, 2017 4:18 am

Then that must be a universal affliction, because from what I’ve seen that is exactly the modus operandi of the progressive left – i.e., normalize extreme cases.

Reply to  Chuck Wortman
July 3, 2017 6:52 am

Fascinating how leftists always define anything they disagree with as fake.
I guess it’s easier than thinking for yourself.

July 2, 2017 7:08 pm

Sun shining in London?
Fake news! Sad!

July 2, 2017 7:48 pm

Billy Joel started the fire,in my opinion. Guards, Seize him.

Reply to  Benjay
July 3, 2017 7:05 am

I thought his alibi was that fire had been burning since the world began?

Paul Penrose
Reply to  MarkW
July 3, 2017 10:50 am

Yes, but he did ignite it when he tried to fight it.

July 2, 2017 8:36 pm

Arn’t solar panels basically built of glass? Does glass burn at this web site? You people are getting weird. You should be little more skeptical.

Reply to  ReallySkeptical
July 2, 2017 10:24 pm

I know from experience that solar panels get hot in sunshine, probably due to high absorption of sunlight going into a small amount of material. The panel itself probably won’t burn, but nearby flammable material might.

Reply to  ReallySkeptical
July 2, 2017 11:42 pm

Maybe we should remove windows from buildings. Dangerous glass.

Reply to  ReallySkeptical
July 3, 2017 12:04 am

Badly designed buildings can, in fact, melt things with the reflection from the glass.
As a case in point…
This is what concentrated sunlight can do.
I have seen demonstrations of focused sunlight melting 6 inch thick steel in a matter of seconds.

Reply to  ReallySkeptical
July 3, 2017 6:53 am

I love it when alarmists pretend to know what they are talking about.

Reply to  ReallySkeptical
July 3, 2017 7:49 am

“Arn’t solar panels basically built of glass?”
The upper side is. The lower side may be either metal or plastic. Plastic is cheaper…

Stewart Pid
July 2, 2017 9:57 pm

Can we start a Fund Me page to place a bank of these panels on Griff’s roof top 😉

Reply to  Stewart Pid
July 3, 2017 7:34 am


July 2, 2017 10:16 pm

Daily Mail – wait – isn’t that the one with all the cleavages and skimpy dresses on the right column? (LOL – Trigger Warning)

July 3, 2017 12:24 am

I’m not going into the details here but all a panel system needs to generate current is sunlight. There’s no ‘switch’.

There is indeed: Curtains!

Reply to  marianomarini
July 3, 2017 6:54 am

What if the curtains catch fire?

Bryan A
Reply to  MarkW
July 3, 2017 10:03 am

Reply to  MarkW
July 7, 2017 3:49 am

MarkW. I suppose there are fireproof curtains, but the matter was a “switch” to stop producing electric power even if the sun shine.

Martin A
July 3, 2017 1:00 am

Not the first time apparently.
A fire on the roof of a Thornton Heath block of flats was caused by an overheated solar panel.
Orbit, which owns the property, said an initial investigation found this as the cause, and they are “putting measures in place” to stop it from happening again.
Fire crews were called to Woodville Road, at the junction with High Street, last Thursday (June 15) to smoke coming from the flats and found solar panels and some of the cladding alight.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Ulaanbaatar
Reply to  Martin A
July 3, 2017 7:59 am

A major component of a solar panel is polyester resin into which the cells are cast. I do not find it surprising that panels catch on fire. Yes there is glass on the front.

July 3, 2017 1:00 am

Heres another solar alarm story at the other end of the temp scale
The writer doesnt seem to twig that solar hot water works in Canberra, Alpine areas and in the northern hemisphere were winters are somewhat more serious. Sounds like a bunch of low quality product/installs.

Reply to  yarpos
July 3, 2017 7:55 am

There are plenty of solar hot water installations in e. g. Sweden. They work quite well in summer, but nobody is stupid enough to try using them in winter.
You just try to build a system that will withstand water freezing in it.

Peta from Cumbria, now Newark
July 3, 2017 1:56 am

Solar panels do not burn.
1, They have very low albedo – they get hot under the sun – anything under or near them will become tinder dry.
2. Pigeons have always been around London (food and warmth) and they *love* to build nests and just generally accumulate debris that can be flammable.
3. Yes, solar panels are joined together with big fat wires but, said wires are plastic insulated, have plastic connectors and Bad Connections Happen. Esp at 600V+ of DC. If me/you/anyone strikes an arc with that sort of stuff, it is An Absolute Pig to extinguish.
4. Looks like an old building being refurbished and as such (especially in the roof) will be stuffed full of plastic foam insulation -as per Government Regulation. Typically the stuff is coated with a layer of ‘tin-foil’ – actually aluminium foil. (The aluminium reflects the infra red radiation doncha know) Don’t mix that with electric – its almost the mix of stuff in the solid rocket boosters the shuttle used to use.
Now, what could possibly go wrong there?
So we’ve got tinder dry stuff in the roof, an arc-welder under construction, pigeons that care not one whit apart from food, keeping warm and making more pigeons, more plastic foam and aluminium ‘insulation’ plus all the usual roofing stuff of wood and bituminous felt.
There really is little else that could happen up there.
This is The Age Of Stupid

Reply to  Peta from Cumbria, now Newark
July 3, 2017 8:00 am

Have a look at this:
Hint: what was the material causing the catastrophic fire in Grenfell tower?

Luis Anastasia
Reply to  tty
July 3, 2017 8:42 am

tty, that is not a PV panel.

Patrick MJD
July 3, 2017 2:28 am

In the right circumstance a 9v battery and wire wool will start a fire. With an array hooked up I am sure there is plenty of current to burn anything in a short.
I have seen what 2 12v 400a/h batteries can do hooked up in series in a short. The insulation of the wiring loom didn’t last long.

July 3, 2017 3:24 am

Do solar panels burn or not?
Maybe it is like cladding, some manufactures do and some do not.
In any event, it is best to discover faults early with evolving technologies. Typically this process starts when someone observes “That should have happened.”
Congrats, Eric Worrall, for publicising this early heads up.
Progress should follow, with decreased future harm, should panels have this danger.

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
July 3, 2017 6:55 am

They don’t burn, but if the temperatures get high enough parts of them can melt and or be vaporized.

I Came I Saw I Left
July 3, 2017 4:00 am

My roof is the last place I’d put solar panels. I just don’t understand how anyone can think it’s a good idea to have hundreds of holes on the roof that have to be sealed with caulk. Imagine having to find a leak and fix it. No thank you.

Reply to  I Came I Saw I Left
July 3, 2017 5:10 am

Just say, you want to put the millions of solar plants into the open landscape? Where are the salamanders, mice, rats, and fish? They need no more eyes, as the solar systems will shadow their habitat. In a few thousand years, mice without eyes will stagger around the area. And if these mice are still white, oh, oh …..

Reply to  I Came I Saw I Left
July 3, 2017 5:39 am

agree if i ever do use solar panels theyll be on isolated stands away from the house and off grid charging batteries and to the house for day drawdown
older homes roofing structures need rebuilding to take the weight
and then of course what happens when you need to find a leak OR replace the entire roofs Galv?
no way removing panels before even starting the roof is a good look
cost and workload would be huge!

Nigel S
July 3, 2017 4:04 am

Know as smoke emitting diodes in the trade for good reason.
Perhaps foam would be a good firefighting solution.

I Came I Saw I Left
July 3, 2017 4:38 am

A bad connection increases resistance which increases heat. If the connection degrades to the point that an air gap is created, at voltages and currents typical with PVs, there will be an arc.

July 3, 2017 5:31 am

Has anyone considered Gaia is sending a message about how covering the planet with solar panels, wind turbines and “energy-saving” buildings is NOT what should be happening?

July 3, 2017 5:33 am

The spread seemed concentrated around the solar panels on the top. It looked a bit like the solar panels were on fire.
I am skeptical as well. Did the fire originate within the solar panel system? Or did the fire start somewhere else and eventually ignite the panels, resulting in dramatic-looking smoke and flames? Fire is a hazard at many construction sites, with or without solar panels.
Regardless, I would be interested in seeing the fire marshal’s report as to the cause, but I’m sure we won’t see that for many months (if ever).

Reply to  PaulH
July 3, 2017 8:07 am

Putting a continuous cover, no matter how fire proof a few centimeters above a slanting roof with openings at the top and bottom will virtually guarantee that any fire in the roof will spread like lightning. Essentially you have converted the roof into a huge flue.

July 3, 2017 5:58 am

At least it was a politically correct green fire.

July 3, 2017 6:24 am

This is rubbish “reporting”. Eyewitness accounts are the basis for the conclusion that the panels were the root cause of the fire?
Solar panels “usually” contain lead and arsenic? Really? C-si panels which are the majority of what are installed typically are ROHS compliant. If they do contain lead, it is in the solder, which in general is less than 1g per module with the lead making up <.01% of the solder.
Panels are laminated between 140 and 190 degrees centegrade. Part of certification testing is over 3 months in a climate chamber that reaches 80C with current being driven through them. The modules operate around 45C. That means just to be able to go to market modules operate at 125C with current and they do not combust.
This whole article is ill informed trash. Ou should be ashamed of yourself.

Jaakko Kateenkorva
July 3, 2017 7:19 am

Luxury apartments in Bow? Bethnal Green? East from White Chapel? Has the area turned into a property developers paradise? I don’t know, but was under the impression Canary Wharf bankers, brokers et cetera prefer housing in the West or on the banks of Thames river instead. And for the next years to come it’s likely to be buyers market.

Reply to  Jaakko Kateenkorva
July 3, 2017 7:36 am

Almost anywhere in the East of London is going upmarket…
(The vastly improved/improving transport links help)

July 3, 2017 8:53 am
Reply to  john
July 4, 2017 4:45 am

Again, I suggest you look at the number of turbine fires per year compared to the (absolutely huge) numbers of turbines…

July 3, 2017 10:17 pm

Solar Panel Fire Destroys Multi-story Building Roof.
Should be Fire Destroys Multi-story Building Roof with solar panels on.
Trying to attack solar panels in this way is not on.
As far as we all know there are millions of installed solar panels on roofs and in other locations safely producing power if and when the sun shines.
The manufacturers have to go through semi stringent testing and regulations to make sure thes products do not catch fire and do not electrocute people.
Firefighters should not go on burning rooves, rule number one.
They collapse and kill firefighters on rooves.
So scotch that comment about roof dangers.
Fires can start in rooves, lots of electrical wires, rats, rats eat the plastic, bingo.
What is on top of said rooves? Solar panels.
This story is a beat up.
Solar panels have a place.
They also have a cost
Solar panels have a lot of real problems in terms of producing continuous cheap reliable energy and their true cost.
Do not have to go into alarmism though to run them down.
We had a roof installation scheme in Australia that caused real fire problems due to faulty installation and being inside the roof where they could reach timber to burn.
Solar panels are way safer.

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