When it comes to fire safety at solar farms, operators often overlook fire mitigation strategies. Many choose to rely on insurance providers to cover losses in the event of a fire. However, deciding to omit fire preventive strategies is neither the most affordable, nor the safest option for solar farms.
Solar is set to account for almost half of all new US electricity generation capacity this year and next year, with three states leading the way. As US solar capacity is set to overtake wind for the first time, solar operators must do everything possible to protect assets from fire.
The benefits of solar farms are so dramatic that in just the last ten years, the average annual growth rate for the solar industry has been 33% year-over-year. With expansion numbers like that, it’s important to note that any new frontier brings challenges, such as inverter fires and how to mitigate fire risks.
EDM machines are designed to be safe from the risk of fire, but unfortunately, accidents happen, and you want to ensure operators and equipment are unharmed. The key to protecting against fires is fast and reliable detection and suppression that is not prone to false discharges.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will lead to the development of 550GW of new, utility-scale clean power by 2030 – with an enormous amount of wind and solar farms set to be deployed, steps must be taken to protect personnel and assets from fire risk, which is often underestimated and overlooked.
A fire at a solar farm can have devastating consequences for the surrounding environment. This is in addition to the obvious risks fires pose to human health. The damage can range from air pollution and water pollution and fatalities to bronchitis and the exacerbation of asthma and other lung diseases in the local population.
The solar industry is in the grip of a supply chain crisis, which means sourcing components for solar farms is increasingly difficult. Solar industry supply chain disruption means sourcing replacement components is extremely challenging – consequently, protecting existing assets from damage, including fire, is crucial.
Increasing commodity prices and freight costs mean new solar projects are becoming much more expensive – consequently, solar farm operators must do all they can to protect their existing assets. In addition, the construction of solar farms is becoming an increasingly expensive business.
Solar farm installation costs are typically between $0.89 to $1.01 per watt, meaning that a 10 megawatt (MW) solar farm would cost between $8.9 and $10 million dollars to build. But additional challenges are likely to increase up-front costs for projects, squeezing project profitability.
Over 50,000 electrical fires occur annually, with nearly 500 deaths and 1,400 injuries, according to research from the Electrical Safety Foundation International. It goes without saying that electrical fires are common and dangerous, but they can also be preventable with the correct safety measures in place.
Despite the fact that wind turbine and photovoltaic fires can be catastrophic, the clean energy industry has been slow to address fire risk. This lack of foresight is particularly surprising when you consider both the prevalence and the financial cost of fire incidents in the clean energy industry. However, research suggests that the renewables industry is greatly underestimating the level of fire risk it faces.