Solar power generation will play an increasingly important role in our renewable energy mix. It is important that we make the best use of all suitable surfaces for this purpose. This will lead to a wide variety of products to integrate solar panels on buildings, in infrastructure, on water, on vehicles or in combination with agriculture. New products and applications also bring new challenges in terms of safety.

TNO uses its expertise and experience to work with partners to minimise the safety risks of current systems and future products. To this end, TNO recently expanded its research facilities to include additional equipment and test setups in the laboratory, as well as mobile equipment for measurements in the field. Parties such as manufacturers and suppliers, construction companies, installation firms, project developers, owners of buildings, insurers, municipalities and national  governmental bodies are potential partners in this research.

Risk factors

All these parties need knowledge about the safe use of solar energy and about factors that play a role in occasional fires in PV systems. Manufacturers want to know the requirements for maximising the safety of their solar modules. For solar on water and solar in infrastructure, there are still no clear guidelines for safe installations. TNO builds up knowledge in these areas quickly so that safety does not become an obstacle to achieving our climate objectives.

Expanding the research infrastructure

TNO recently invested in expanding its research infrastructure for electrical and fire safety of solar panels and systems. We are conducting research with various parties on existing systems as well as developing new products with them. These include solutions to minimise the risk of electric arcs, a major cause of fires from PV systems, or new technology that prevents hotspots caused by shade.

We work with manufacturers to eliminate design risks. In our lab, we do extensive electrotechnical tests, temperature measurements and electric arcs detection system tests, among other things. This involves testing the product itself, but also the interaction with other materials, such as in their integration in building elements. In this way, we develop knowledge that the government can also use, for example for regulatory purpose.

Combining expertise

Infrared image of part of a solar panel, a hotspot of 149° C

For various parties, TNO provides expertise on PV modules and systems in relation to power electronics. We have advanced test facilities for measuring, analysing and characterising these modules. For the integration of solar PV in the built environment and infrastructure, we work in multidisciplinary teams that combine knowledge of energy, electronics and construction. 

More info about safety of solar panel systems?

Contact Josco Kester

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Josco Kester

  • PV Modules & Applications