Who cleans up solar panels after a fire?

Who cleans up solar panels after a fire?
Who cleans up solar panels after a fire?

VOAM, together with the Dutch Association of Insurers and the Salvage Foundation, has Research protocol solar panel incidents drawn up. The aim of the protocol is that all parties involved know who should do what after an incident in which solar panels are released. “We all need structure. This protocol provides direction.”

In daily practice it is by no means always clear who is responsible for cleaning up solar panels particles after an incident. Particularly in large-scale fires, the particles can spread for miles. “This regularly leads to questions from farmers, local residents, emergency services and other involved parties about the tasks and responsibilities of the various parties,” the Association for Research and Advice on Environmentally Hazardous Substances (VOAM) writes in the research protocol.

Hurry up

One of the most important aspects of the protocol is that it is clear in advance how the research will be conducted, responds VOAM board member Hans de Jong. “We don’t get much further with retrospective discussions.”

De Jong worked hard and quickly in the working group with a number of colleagues and insurers. The protocol was put on paper within a few months. “We have gone from nothing to something in a short time and have created a dynamic document that we can immediately adjust if necessary. For example, if new research shows that heavy metals disappear into the soil with the extinguishing water.”


He emphasizes that there have been regular discussions in the working group, but mainly about details. “We have the protocol Incidents after asbestos fires taken as a basis, but abandoned the measures that apply in the event of such a fire. Solar panels are another risk, which may also arise later. For example, if a child starts playing with those solar panels or if cows eat the glass splinters. The term dangerous must be entered differently for solar panels than for asbestos.”


Policy officer Geerlof Van Loo of the Salvage Foundation sees it Investigation protocol solar panel incidents especially as an important starting point. “It is a tool that we desperately need in daily practice, because the government has not yet determined in which concentration the particles are toxic or not for solar panels.

This protocol offers us, but also other stakeholders, a structured approach. We have already understood from various other parties, including the RIVM, that they only welcome this protocol. In that sense, we consider it a first version. It would be great if, in addition to new insights, more parties would also be involved in version two, including LTO Nederland, but this is already a very good start.”

Social unrest

The protocol will come into effect on September 1. This means that experts, the fire brigade, the coordinators of the Salvage Foundation, but also insurers will start working according to the rules of the protocol from today. Gerard Toorenaar of the Zeeuwse Onderlinge expresses the hope that the protocol can remove the social unrest after a fire as much as possible. “Unknown makes unloved. And causes anxiety. Fires with solar panels are still a relatively new risk. They are not yet very common, but once they do, all municipalities will deal with such a fire differently. From now on, immediately after the fire, everyone involved will have clarity about who does what.”


Toorenaar calls this management “the biggest gain for insurers”. “Direction is important to limit social unrest, but we should also not make it bigger than it is. The comparison with asbestos has often been made, also during the drafting of the protocol, but we really don’t need those men in white suits for fires with solar panels.”

The Research Protocol for solar panel incidents can be found on the website of the VOAM, the Salvage Foundation and the Dutch Association of Insurers.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: cleans solar panels fire

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