Renewable Power Group Discusses Solar Battery Security Native Information – Lockport Union-Solar & Journal


Electricity has been stored in batteries for centuries. The American scientist and inventor Benjamin Franklin is credited with coining the term “battery” in 1749 while experimenting with electricity.

While people use batteries every day, the thought of a lithium-ion battery large enough to be put in a shipping container can be worrying.

The proposed utility-scale Ridge View Solar Center in Hartland could rely on these giant batteries, and that is a major point of contention for opponents who have cited horror stories about the batteries. One story is about an explosion at a solar power generation site in Arizona in April 2019.

According to two experts in the field, it should be noted that while incidents have occurred, they are not likely and can be prevented by training local firefighters in ESS security.

During the Arizona incident, a battery station caught fire due to a possible grounding problem or possibly a defective battery cell. The exact cause is unknown, but it is known that the container started smoking and while the fire was being extinguished by the battery container's own system, the amount of heat was combined with the gases given off by the overheated lithium-ion batteries, one Created condition in which the storage container could explode. The final ingredient was oxygen, which was delivered when the fire department introduced a thermal detector while planning to open the container. The explosion caused injuries to firefighters.

"It's worth noting that literally thousands, if not tens of thousands, of these systems are in use worldwide," said Nick Warner, founding director of the Energy Storage Response Group. ESRG works with manufacturers as well as code officers, firefighters and insurance companies on ESS, the abbreviation for "energy storage systems" or simply batteries.

Warner estimates that within five years millions of battery systems with or without renewable energy will be deployed. Kevin Campbell of EDF Renewables, the company trying to bring utility-scale Ridge View Solar Center to the cities of Hartland and Newfane, referred him to the Union-Sun & Journal.

The US and J have independently reached out to Brian O'Connor, who works for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a nonprofit dedicated to reducing fire risk and its impact through training and education resources.

O’Connor said he believes that with proper equipment testing and fire plans in place, ESS risks can be managed.

“Are you dangerous? You can be. If they are installed incorrectly. If they were made wrong. If things are done wrong, yes, but I think … with proper supervision they can make sure the firefighters in the area know what they are doing when the firefighter is part of their installation, "he said.

For systems that generate solar and wind power, ESS are incredibly useful and, according to O & # 39; Connor, not inherently unsafe.

"& # 39; Unsure & # 39; is an unspecified term. Everything has a little risk, ”he said. "Even in the last 10 years there have been some incidents and that is exactly what NFPA is trying to prevent."

Warner said what was happening in Arizona had been predicted two years earlier by the fire protection side of the industry, but they weren't all on the same page.

"That shouldn't have happened, but that information didn't permeate the entire industry. It wasn't widespread," he said. "Within the safety cultures, people have still downplayed the need to have fire fighters trained by subject matter experts."

Warner said the industry has since made progress in providing information to first responders in areas where energy storage systems are used.

O’Connor sees the incident in Arizona as a point of contact for researchers looking for information to prevent a recurrence. However, other incidents have also been reported, citing a 2012 fire at a Maine wind farm that stored energy in lead-acid batteries.

"The first responders showed up (but) they really didn't know what to do. There were no published tactics or recommendations on how firefighters should respond when they face these things," he said. "They think," It is Electricity, so don't put water on it, "but after doing some research, we found that water is the best suppressant you would want to use on these energy storage systems."

O’Connor said NFPA is committed to "getting everyone to the table" to write rules that everyone can be happy with.

"We need to know more information," he said. "Although I am sure that Tesla has conducted tests on its solar lithium batteries, they will not publish this as it would bring their competition to their knees as well." We're trying to do these tests so we can say "We paid for this" and show them to everyone. … The more data there is, the more it helps the entire industry. … We are definitely going in the right direction. "

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