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https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2019/08/22/there-are-solar-power-fires-per-year/

This data implies (roughly) 1 in a million solar fire risk.

So say I have a 1gw solar farm with 1kw panels. Does this mean I have 1 fire every year? Does utility scale solar basically have fires every so often?

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  • Hard to get the data on this I would bet it is much higher than reported, I state this as an electrician that my state had to add additional requirements for electrical safety because of the number of fires created in small solar installations.
    – Ed Beal
    Aug 14 at 22:45
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The data isn't good enough to say much of anything about frequency. It's basically "fires per million installations", with no information about the size of installation involved (or even if size is of any importance in determining fire frequency).

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Since you didn't ask specifically about the USA I looked for some local statistics instead. Solar-caused fires made up about 1.5% of home fires in 2016. That research was done because Australian standards for DC isolators were foolishly written and a number of fires resulted. So I would take the 1.5% (of home fires) as an upper bound.

https://renew.org.au/research/rooftop-dc-isolators-and-solar-system-fires/

https://www.pv-magazine.com/2021/07/02/australias-unsafe-solar-installation-standards-under-fire/

For industrial applications I expect the frequency is much, much lower because they use professional installers, do preventive maintenance, and any fires are likely to be less serious because they have staff on site at all times. It's similar to the difference in fire frequency between home generators and thermal power stations... not only are there fewer of the latter, fires are much less likely for a whole lot of reasons.

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    "1.5% of home fires" answers a different question. How many homes have residential solar? How many home fires were there? This additional information is necessary to apply any interpretation to the "1.5%" statistic given here. Jul 18 at 11:47
  • Knowing how many home PV fires and systems would help, but the 1.5% number tells us that since we don't have hundreds of commercial PV systems we're not likely to see a fire in one. That's what "much lower" means in my answer.
    – Móż
    Jul 20 at 2:52

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