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.
Selecting and implementing the right fire suppression system can be the difference between a minor fire and a catastrophe. If you think about fire suppression systems and picture old sprinkler systems or run-of-the-mill fire extinguishers, it might surprise you to know that there are modern systems that don’t use water or foam.
As global warming rises, many people turn to solar farms to combat the issue. Because solar farms do not have any harmful discharges, they do not contaminate the land, water, or air around them. This combined with how sustainable they are gives them an edge over fossil fuel usage for power. As more solar farms are created, though, you might wonder how safe these structures are. In fact, you may ask, "can solar farms catch on fire?"
Is a fire suppression system the same as a sprinkler system? The short answer is no; they are not the same. Although they may share the same objective—suppressing and extinguishing a fire—their methods of doing so are very different. In this blog, we'll talk about the difference between a fire suppression system vs a sprinkler system so you can make an informed decision on which one would be suitable for your application.
Though solar farm fires are rare, they are not impossible. Any high-power electrical equipment, including a solar power plant, presents a risk for fire. The good news is that solar farm fire protection has quickly evolved along with the solar industry. Let’s talk more about what happens in the worst-case scenario when a fire does break out at a solar farm.
Fire breaking out at photovoltaic (PV) farms has the potential to be costly: on project finances, on the environment, and on the perception of solar technology. The cost of repairing assets ravaged by fire is one thing but dealing with the fall out of enraged local residents or the consequences of scorched environments could be even more tricky.
Given suspicions that solar farm fires are underreported, a new Firetrace International report highlights concerns that the solar industry may be unaware of the true extent of fire risk. Data concerning solar farm fires is in short supply. In fact, such is the lack of statistics that researchers – specifically, those at the UK’s BRE National Solar Centre – have reached the worrying conclusion that they suspect solar farm fires are being underreported.
If you’re a building owner, a business owner, or another key decision maker in an industry where the potential for fire is high, then it’s important to understand whether or not you need a fire suppression system. The fact is, in many settings, fire suppression systems are necessary to quickly detect fire and automatically activate—before equipment or employees are put in harm’s way.
Electrical fires are one of the top causes of fires in industrial settings. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) found that fires caused by electrical distribution and lighting equipment accounted for 55% of direct property damage, as well as 9% of civilian injuries from 2011 to 2015. Electrical failure or malfunction caused $25 million dollars of direct property damage in the same time span.
Understanding the components that make up a fire protection system in buildings is essential for owners and safety managers to confidently decide which is the best fire suppression system for their needs. Knowing the different components supports an efficient installation, allows company stakeholders to monitor the progress of the project, and offers perspective on the final costs.
When it comes to electrical cabinets and panels, fires are more a question of “when” rather than “if.” These fires cost businesses tens of millions of dollars a year in damages, yet fire protection for electrical cabinets is not always required by regulations. In fact, electrical cabinet fire protection is often skimped on or skipped altogether, in part due to the cost of fire suppression systems.
When fires ignite in wind turbines, speed is of the essence for suppressing the flames. We’ve noted in a previous blog about how long it takes for a wind turbine fire to cause irreparable damage and concluded then that the straightforward answer is that it doesn’t take long at all. It’s a matter of minutes before a faulty electrical component or overheated gearbox ignites a fire that leads to total destruction.