The largest solar panel blaze in history took place in June 2009 in Germany at the warehouse complex of BP Solar! Talk about “accident prone”. BP’s 200 square metre array, at Bürstadt, near Mannheim, was one of the largest roof-mounted installations in the world. And it was fabricated by BP Solar.
A rooftop solar array produces direct current electricity at a potential of 600 to 800 volts, more than enough to kill—and it cannot be turned off. The standard firefighting technique of opening up the roof to vent a blaze is not possible, because putting an axe through the solar panels exposes the firemen to deadly voltages.
Firefighters in the U.S. also have a policy of letting the solar panel-related fire burn out, rather than fighting it. Reporting on a 2009 meeting of New Jersey fire chiefs, a Florence Township chief wrote: “The final question which was asked really put things in perspective—someone asked that since California is number one when it comes to Solar Panel System installations, ‘What do their firefighters do when a structure fire involves these systems?’ Answer was ‘they let it burn’!”
And the solar panels themselves are often the cause of the blaze. Here in Australia, currently experiencing a government-subsidised boom in rooftop panel installations, a survey of 200 systems found 3 per cent were incorrectly wired, leading to serious fire risk. Apart from faulty wiring by installers, poor quality control in manufacturing has led to fracture in the joints between the solar cell modules, which can lead to electrical arcing. The resultant fires burn at quite high temperatures.
Solar electricity generation is ridiculously costly, and has only caught on because of huge government subsidies. Studies in the U.S. show that the true cost for the average home is 35 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), and 25 cents per kWh in the desert. Electricity can be generated from nuclear plants at 1.3 cents/kWh, if plant construction time is reduced to a reasonable five years or less. Uranium fuel is so energy dense, that the main cost of nuclear power is in the plant construction. Knowing this, the Green Nazis in the U.S.A. fought for punitive regulations which dragged out construction times to 10 years or longer. They thus ran up amortisation costs at high compound interest rates to high levels, making it appear cheaper, in the short run, for a utility to build coal or gas-fired plants.
Meanwhile, Green alternative energy is subsidised at huge taxpayer expense. In Australia, under the federal government’s Solar Credits scheme, a typical home solar package including panels and inverter is subsidised, astoundingly at close to $10,000. Additionally, five states and the NT subsidise net feed-in to the grid—power generated minus the household consumption—from rooftop solar panels at up to a guaranteed minimum 60 cents/kWh, while NSW and ACT subsidise gross feed-in—the total generated—at the incredible rate of 50.05 cents in the ACT, and 60 cents in NSW!
In Germany, "Der Spiegel" reports that a study by the Arrhenius Institute for Energy and Climate Policy calculated that solar energy receives €2.7 million per day in subsidies! This figure is obtained simply by multiplying the 35 euro-cents/kWh which consumers pay as a subsidy on solar energy, by the overall production of one day, as measured on 8th July. Today, one of the largest solar panel installations in the world is atop the roof of the Reichstag building in Berlin. Shall history soon repeat itself in bizarre fashion, with a new Reichstag fire, this time caused by the solar panel mania of the new Green Nazis?