Leaving a gap between solar panels and the roof spells disaster at Kedah school

ALOR SETAR:  Old ways of installing solar panels that leave a gap with the roof are a recipe for disaster during storms, said Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching.

She was referring to the incident when the roofing of six blocks at SMK Keat Hwa (1) here were blown off and damaged during a storm on early Monday morning (Sept 24).

“The old method left behind a gap in between the solar panel and the roofing of the building,” she explained.

“During storms, the strong winds will easily lift away the roofing of the building,”

She explained that the new method of installing solar panels on roof tops leave no gap in between the panel and the roof, thus leaving no space for strong winds to get in.

“Bigger schools which have already installed solar panels in such ways must pay more attention to the matter.”

When asked whether the Ministry of Education will inspect solar panels already installed at other schools, Teo said that they will inform schools on the matter.

She ordered the repairs on the roof of SMK Keat Hwa to be done as soon as possible, with all damaged solar panels to be removed in a day or two.

[ Teo Nie Ching (in jacket) talking to officials about the storm damage - Photo: G.C. TAN / The Star]

She added that the roof repairs should be done within two weeks so that school sessions will not be disrupted.

Earlier, she was brief by school principal Wong Ghee Hong on how the problem happened.

State Education Director Abd Aziz Selaiman and Kota Setar District Education Officer Mokhtar Ahmad were also present.

The storm occurred at the school between 7.05am to 7.15am. Strong winds swept through the roofing of Blocks A, B,C,D E and F of the school, forcing nearly 2,000 students and 131 teachers to be evacuated to the school hall.

The roofing at Block F suffered extensive damage.

A 15-year-old female Form 3 student sustained head injuries and received 12 stiches at the Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital.

Four other female Form 3 students received outpatient treatment at the same hospital.

All of them have since returned home.

Officers from the Public Works Department also briefed her on the repair work and solar panel installation methods which will be carried out.

The repairs at the school is expected to cost about RM660,000.