Fire safety requirements of applying BIPV products in Australia

The application of photovoltaics (PV) in the buildings has been increased significantly in the last decade, not only in Australia but also around the world as a strategy to produce green energy. As part of PV applications, the building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) products combine the functions of traditional building components and a photovoltaic system. Therefore, BIPV products can be used as a building component in both new and existing buildings. Among all safety requirements for the application of BIPV in buildings, fire safety is a fundamental requirement that, in Australia, must comply with the Building Code Australia (BCA) and relevant Australian Standards. Since BIPV products have combustible components, they cannot meet the Deemed-to-Satisfy (DtS) requirements for being used as integral parts of most buildings. As such, a Performance Solution is the only pathway to establish compliance with the Performance Requirements for BIPV use in most buildings. To formulate a Performance Solution for BIPV fire safety assessment, a fire safety engineer must have adequate understanding on the fire resistance, reaction to fire, fire propagation, critical heat flux, heat release rate and smoke production of a typical BIPV product in a fire condition. This paper first reports some examples of PV fires in the past and the consequences. Then, we review some critical parameters on the performance of PV/BIPV products in fire conditions. Finally, we discuss what needs to be considered in a Performance Solution to allow BIPV products in a building.


Mr MC Hui Technical Director, RED Fire Engineers Pty Ltd, Australia

MC Hui is a Technical Director of RED Fire Engineers Pty Ltd. He has over 40 years of experience in the fire safety and fire protection industry.

He has a Bachelor degree in mechanical engineering from University of Hong Kong and a Master degree in Building Fire Safety and Risk Engineering from Victoria University.

MC is a Fire Safety Engineer on the National Engineering Register and a Chartered Professional Engineer with Engineers Australia, an accredited certifier – Fire Safety in New South Wales, a Registered Building Practitioner (Fire Safety) in Victoria, and an RPEQ in Queensland.

He is a guest lecturer at Victoria University on their postgraduate fire engineering course.

Dr Quang Le Fire Safety Consultant, RED Fire Engineers Pty Ltd, Australia

Quang’s expertise includes the performance of materials and structural elements at high temperature and performance-based design. He has a wide range of knowledge from experimental, numerical to analytical studies related to structural fire engineering.

Mr Martin Johanson Senior Fire Engineer, Manager, RED Fire Engineers Pty Ltd, Australia

Martin is a Fire Safety Engineer with over ten years of experience from fire safety engineering in Sweden, both as a consultant and as a manager. He has managed numerous large and complex projects as well as have extensive experience with construction management and inspections. Martin has previously held the role as a Director of Quality and knows the importance of client relationships as well as procedures and policies to deliver high-quality service and customer satisfaction.

Dr Rebecca Yang Senior Lecturer, Solar Energy Application Group, School of Property, Construction and Project management, RMIT University, Australia

Rebecca is a scholar of building, construction and distributed renewable energy who undertakes pure and applied research that can provide innovative solutions to the industry by integrating theories with cutting-edge technologies. She is the leader of the Solar Energy Application Group. She is the leader of Solar Energy Application Group and the Australian expert in International Energy Agency PVPS Task 15 BIPV.