Tesla Victorian big battery fire

The Tesla Victorian big battery fire at Moorabool near Geelong in Victoria is another example of why smaller community-based neighbourhood batteries are a preferable way forward for making the energy supply more renewable. With smaller installations that are more spread out and serve the community in which they are based there is less likelihood of larger electricity supply interruptions when a large power supplier has issues and has to be taken off line for safety reasons.

The 300MW/450MWH capacity big battery comprised of Tesla batteries in multiple shipping containers was registered with AEMO on 28th July 2021. During testing on 30th July 2021 one cell failed and caught fire and quickly engulfed the container in which the batteries were housed. This then spread to another container which was also destroyed. Luckily fire fighters were able to keep other containers cool enough so that they didn’t also catch fire. The blaze was finally extinguished 4 days later. 150 firefighters and 30 fire trucks and support vehicles attended the fire along with many other multi-agency specialists.

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MIGROS gets the largest salt battery storage facility in Switzerland

It’s great to see the newest installation of the #SoNick batteries in Switzerland by Innovenergy.

This installation is a 540 kWh salt battery storage system and now stands in the basement of MIGROS Schlieren/ZH. The molten salt batteries are 620V SoNick batteries supplied by FZSoNick and inverters by Indrivetec.

The SoNick batteries are charged with a large 806 KW solar PV system.

The purpose of the large-scale project is to save energy costs by optimising self-consumption. The other benefit is to maximise peak shaving which ensures the supermarket doesn’t have a lot of intermittent high energy draws which would increase energy bills substantially.

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Not all batteries are equal

With many households already having solar PV installations many people are now looking at energy storage systems to upgrade their home energy supply.

One of the most common questions is what battery is best for my needs. There is a lack of knowledge and a great amount of misinformation in the battery storage industry. It is critical to do your own homework and not just believe what salesman / installers are telling you as they are often restrained in their knowledge by the battery brand they are trying to sell.

In an effort to compare battery technologies a company called ITP renewables, in Canberra, set up a battery test site, https://batterytestcentre.com.au/ to conduct longitudinal performance testing of conventional and emerging battery technologies. This is an Arena funded testing facility set up to independently test and compare different battery technologies under Australian conditions for both performance and longevity for a 3 year period. This testing centre was first set up with Phase 1 in 2016 then phase 2 started in 2017. Originally it was for lithium-ion batteries only but now includes other technologies.

The SoNick battery is included in round 3 which started in 2019 and to date showing excellent results. 10 Previous 6 monthly reports are available from the test centre and can be download.at http://batterytestcentre.com.au/reports/

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Protect Yourself from power outages from wind and storm damage

Windy winter weather tends to bring trees down on power lines, cutting off your power supply as many people in Victoria have discovered recently. Many people in Gippsland and the Dandenongs are still without power a week after the storm that raged across Victoria on 9th June.

For many people the need to protect themselves from power outages is becoming a more and more common occurrence and it is not unusual for it to take days for the power to be reconnected, particularly if you are not on a main line and other lines take priority.

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Renewable Energy Park at Yarram Sawmill

GridEdge is currently involved in a project to create a Renewable Energy Park at the Radial Timbers Sawmill in Yarram.

The project will establish a “Bioenergy Cell” that incorporates the GridEdge SoNick Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) and The Pyrotech Energy Mobile Pyroflash Plant Pyrolysis Unit.

Stage 1 will be the installation of 2 x 100kW solar & 2 x 67.5 kWh battery installations that will be shared with a Yarram community energy group via a benefit sharing model.

Stage 2 of the Renewable Energy Park is to establish a small 2-tonne pyrolysis unit plus SoNick battery storage.

Stage 3 will be the installation a 10-tonne pyrolysis unit plus additional SoNick battery storage

Stage 4 will be the installation of a neighbourhood battery to provide energy for the wider Yarram community.

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Battery safety and fire risk

When installing energy storage batteries more people are becoming aware or the risks associated with batteries that have a possibility of going into thermal runaway.

Over the last few years there have been a number of reports of fires and explosions being caused by lithium ion batteries.

‘Zombie batteries’ causing hundreds of waste fires, experts warn

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Not all battery inverters are equal

With the installation of energy storage systems most people look at the battery and concentrate on that but in reality the battery inverter is an integral part of any energy storage system and will dictate much of the energy storage systems operations.

Often when an energy storage system isn’t working properly the fault lies with the inverter and not the battery.

Inverter power is measured in kVA or volt amps.

The battery inverter takes power from the solar PV array (solar inverter or MPPT) and battery which can be of different voltages and converts it to 240V for household of business use.

Solar inverters are designed to work with solar PV arrays and battery inverters are designed to work with energy storage batteries. Hybrid inverters are also coming onto the market that combine both solar PV and battery conversions.

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Salt batteries – the only chemistry UL9540A certified for safety

More and more people are recognising that one of the major issues with energy storage batteries are the dangers with fires and explosions particularly associated with thermal runaway (self-sustaining fires). This has become particularly relevant as people are considering installing the many lithium ion battery technologies in their houses or businesses and are becoming aware of the possibility of the dangers associated with this.

Standards Australia has been working on new installation standards “AS-NZ 5139_2019” which will try and address this issue but there is still a lot of discussion around whether the new installation restrictions are too strict or are really looking at individual battery characteristics correctly and fairly.

International Standard “UL9540A” has been developed to independently examine Fire Risk with Battery Cells and Evaluate Thermal Runaway Fire Propagation in Battery Energy Storage Systems.

Salt batteries – the only chemistry UL9540A certified for fire safety
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Questions to ask about installing an energy storage system

Most people that are looking at installing an energy storage system (battery and battery inverter) don’t realise that every installation is different and there is no one size fits all. Installations are very dependent on whether there is already solar PV in place and the current electrical wiring situation at the premises.

With solar PV installations as long as you have suitable roof space you can install a system and the questions that need deciding are finding a reliable supplier / installer, working out the size of the PV system needed according to electricity usage and roof space and the size of the inverter required.

With an energy storage system it is much more complicated. Among the considerations are;

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Medical Centre – Commercial Case Study using SoNick batteries

The medical centre was to be refurbished and part of the upgrade was to install a PV system with battery storage. The difficulty was allocating the space for battery storage that was safe for patients as well as staff. As is usual in a medical centre space is a premium and is used for medical related purposes as a priority.

A space was identified under the stairwell as the only realistic place to house the batteries and inverters. This limited the type of battery storage due to both space and safety requirements. Continue reading “Medical Centre – Commercial Case Study using SoNick batteries”