PV systems and fires

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incendi fotovoltaico
by Felice Lucia

The fires in the presence of photovoltaic systems for the presence of high voltages continuously , causing major problems for the emergency response by exposing the operator to various risks. The causes can be many and not necessarily related to the structure of the photovoltaic system.
Among the causes of fire determined by the installation you have:

  • Problems welding cells

  • Mismating ( Coupling wrong connectors )

  • Electric arc panels

  • Electric arc cables

  • Step cables wrong .

The first photovoltaic market to develop in Europe was the German , and Germany were the first places to the problem of extinction : sometimes, as a result of significant fires , operators did not intervene because of the absence of a system in able to take tension off the string. In these cases , the only action was to wait for the natural extinction.
Following the rules were enacted , which refer to DIN VDE 0132 ( extinction in the event of electrical power on) .

  1. Use water jet split up to 1500 VDC, 1 meter distance operator

  2. Use water jet up to 1500 Vdc, 5 meters distance operator

  3. Do not use foam

  4. Diagram of the main components well positioned photovoltaic system.

In Italy, the Ministry of Interior has issued several circulars , including the "Guide to Installing Photovoltaic Systems " of 07-02-2012 and note no . EM 622/867 of 18-02-2011 , entitled " Procedure in case of intervention in the presence of photovoltaic panels ."
The first guide is a circular and faces the problem of fire prevention for photovoltaic systems .
It is stated that PV systems : not covered by the activities subject to fire prevention inspections ( D.PR. 151 1/8/10 ) may exacerbate the level of fire risk for: a. interference apparatuses ventilation b . risk of obstruction translucent c . not risk opening vents d. obstacle and / or slowing down the roofs fuel cooling operations covers and extinction increased risk of fire spreading to internal and / or external building You are also requirements of the type : The installation must be performed in order to prevent the spread of fire from the photovoltaic generator to the building in which it is incorporated ; installation of structures and elements of coverage and / or facade combustible such as: class 0 ( DM 26/06/84 ) or Class A1 (DM 10/03/02 ) ; interposition between PV modules and the support surface of a layer of material at least EI30 and incobustibile Possibility of a specific assessment of the risk of spread of fire taking into account: a. class of the external fire performance of roofs and roof coverings b . class of reaction to fire of the photovoltaic module The location of the modules and the electrical conductor must also always ensure correct operation and maintenance of smoke and heat vents , as well as analyze possible ways of veicolazinoe fire ( skylights, chimneys , etc. ..) . The photovoltaic system will have characteristics depending on the type of place, eg a risk of explosion, due to the presence gas etc. .. In particular , for all you will have : mount a device of the emergency control, located in the position indicated , which results in the cutting of the electrical system , within the compartment / manufactured, in respect of the power sources including the electrical system provide for signage. The PROT : EM 622/867 addresses the need for operator intervention of the fire brigade identifying risks :

  1. Fall risk , use the PPE expected to work at height trying to avoid walking / treading the panels otherwise use the dpi provided for live working

  2. Risk Structure and Collapse of the fall of the panels

  3. Risks Fire Propagation

  4. Risk inhaling dangerous chemicals

  5. Electrical hazard

The release emergency power energises the system downstream of the inverter . By day they are to be considered energized conductors and components between photovoltaic panels and the point of release in tension. In particular, it is recommended, especially for the daytime hours of:

  1. Unhook the circuit -level inverter

  2. If possible, avoid any direct intervention on the modules under tension, in case you need it is recommended to cover the photovoltaic panels with transparent covers.

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