I thank the noble Lord for bringing this information to our attention. Some interesting reports documenting the risks are available, and I refer particularly to the report from the Institution of Fire Engineers on solar power fire risk and to batteryfiresafety.co.uk.
I have a couple of points to add to the comments already made as to whether it would be worth directing information about the storage of the batteries. It should be highlighted in particular that batteries are often stored in garages next to parked cars, which can have similar battery systems, and will not always be easily accessible.
The risks of lithium ion batteries from a fire safety perspective apparently have been well documented. However, the other element is that the risk with lithium ion batteries is not just fire. Once the battery fails—I think the term is “runs away”—the cells usually start to give off smoke. Thermal runaway is the chemical process within the battery which produces heat, as well as flammable toxic chemical gases, very quickly, often before any flames arise.
I think it is fair to say that, although the information is out there, it has not been properly documented. I wonder whether the health and safety considerations of the increasing use of these batteries and solar panels have been taken on board. Does the Minister think that there is a problem and, if the answer is yes, what does she propose to do about it?