It is interesting that everyone is up in arms about the battery standards being introduced into Australia but maybe people should be asking why these standards are being brought in. It is not only government and coal company lobbying.
Yes, lithium ion batteries are currently cheaper and installing them in safer locations will add cost to installing them, however there are already safer battery technologies on the market that are being pushed out of the market due to the cheap cost of lithium ion batteries.
It is easy to say there is a low probability of your lithium ion battery catching fire, (and some lithium battery technologies are safer than others), but if it is your house that burns down or someone in your house that is injured you may be taking a different view on the safety standards.
The thing that is not being addressed here is that a fire doesn’t have to start in the battery due to a fault in the battery for the battery to catch fire; it can start in the vicinity of the battery and then move to the battery. The standards are designed to help the fire brigade protect your property and their members safety by limiting the dangers caused by battery fires that can’t be put out.
There are already safer batteries available in the Australian market but they tend to be more expensive upfront but are generally cheaper over the life of the battery due to factors like lack of degradation. The FZSoNick sodium nickel chloride (molten salt) batteries or Redflows flow battery are both batteries that won’t go into thermal runaway but aren’t being considered on price alone. These two technologies are also recyclable now, not maybe at some time in the future.
Although , at this stage there have not been any publicly recorded deaths in house fires from energy storage batteries catching fire this is a very real problem that will need to be addressed. Standards Australia are in the process of creating installation standards to limit the damage if a battery does catch fire.
There is mention that “at this stage, this Standard does not cover high temperature batteries, such as NaNiCl batteries or sodium sulphur batteries.” We assume this can be seen as a good thing, in that the standards committee feels there is nothing scary about our SoNick batteries and it then comes down to the installer complying to best practice and manufacturer installation guidelines.
A cradle-to-grave life cycle responsibility should be mandatory for all energy storage batteries as well as for other products and is the key to a cleaner future.
This is where so many of the current lithium ion batteries fall down. Pushing for cheaper batteries and not accounting for end of life disposal costs has very serious ethical implications as well as serious safety issues if lithium ion batteries go to landfill.
Then you are not just looking at the toxicity of the batteries you are looking at the probability of lithium ion batteries in landfill catching fire and exploding if they get wet or too hot which is a serious safety issue for landfill workers whether they are in Australia or overseas.
There are definitely alternatives to lithium ion batteries available in Australia now, https://www.facebook.com/GridEdge sell sodium nickel chloride batteries into the Australian marketplace which are safe, (cannot go into thermal runaway) and are 100% recyclable. They have been in use around the world since 2010 so are a proven technology and are now being introduced into Australia. For more information visit http://quantum.gridedge.com.au/index.html
Redflow also produce batteries that do not go into thermal runaway if they get too hot and are also recyclable although like large scale lithium ion batteries have not been proven over time in real life operating conditions.