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Rockwool UK Talk Safety When Installing Solar Panels On A Roof.


Important fire safety considerations for solar energy plants on roof tops

Lisa Stephens, Product Manager for the Building Envelope at ROCKWOOL® UK, explains which safety measures need to be considered before installing solar panels on a roof

As the result of increased efforts to reduce carbon emissions, coupled with the rising cost for energy and general living expenses, the UK and Europe have seen a rapid growth of the market for solar energy.

Flat roofs have been used as an additional space to house building services equipment, including installations for the generation of renewable energy, for many years. When planning the installation of roof-top solar panels, all parties involved (designers, specifiers, owners, contractors and insurers) have to be aware of any associated potential fire risks, and engaged in mitigating them.

What needs to be considered for roof-top solar installations

The use of non-combustible flat-roof materials, including insulation, is a straightforward way for designers and developers to address the fire hazards associated with the building envelope, including where solar PV is installed.

This approach follows best practice guidance from some insurers, who may recommend that buildings they cover utilise non-combustible materials in high-risk areas such as the roof. New guidance published by the Fire Protection Association (FPA) under its RISCAuthority research scheme suggests a similar solution: “PV installations should be installed on non-combustible roofs meeting Class A1/A2 s1, d0 to BS EN 13501-1. Fires involving combustible roofs will spread quickly, without the benefit of any protection installed within the building.”[1]

The organisation also addressed this topic in ‘Need to Know Guide RE3: Rooftop-mounted PV Solar Systems’: “Ensure roofing materials are non-combustible (Class A1/A2 s1, d0 to BS EN 13501-1) OR if installation on a combustible or partly-combustible roof is unavoidable, then apply a fire resistant covering.”[2]

Compliance and liability

In England, Approved Document B provides guidance on how designers can meet building regulation requirements for fire safety – but there are multiple routes to compliance, and different ways to demonstrate an appropriate level of fire protection. Responsible parties must consider carefully whether their specific project adheres to the statutory requirements, rather than to the guidance alone.

ROCKWOOL recently launched the new whitepaper ‘Flat roofs: The functional fifth façade’. It offers practical advice to simplify specification whilst going above and beyond legislative requirements.

For more information and to download the whitepaper go to: https://rockwool.link/RW-ArchetechFF