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.
One of the biggest problems with the efforts to use renewable energy to produce large amounts of the energy consumed on a daily basis has been its inability to reliably supply power at the times it is most needed. This can and will be addressed with the installation of battery systems that allow households, businesses and energy network providers to store renewable energy for use at night or in peak periods.
Solar panels convert the sun’s rays into electricity during the day with maximum generation being between the hours of 11 to 3pm. Unfortunately, for most people unless you are home during the day 80% of this power gets fed back into the grid for very little return. Likewise, although energy generation through wind is now very efficient and cost effective the times when wind produces energy can be intermittent.
On June 14, 2016, four researchers at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory were preparing to ship a waist-high, ape-like robot named RoboSimian off-site. The robot had been built to rescue people from dangerous situations that were to difficult for human rescuers. The scientists swapped one lithium-ion battery for a fresh one, then left for lunch to let the new power supply charge.
Unfortunately, the new lithium ion battery malfunctioned and went into thermal runaway. Luckily the researchers were no longer in close proximity to the robot so no-one was hurt, although NASA have said there have been a number of these close calls.
Just like GridEdge’s sodium nickel chloride battery technology Redflow’s flow battery is well suited to Australia’s varying weather conditions and doesn’t have the fire risks that lithium ion batteries do.
Victoria’s Metropolitan Fire Brigade says it may take “Years to understand’ the fire risk posed by lithium ion battery storage
The MFB said the solar installations were vulnerable to faults across their systems, including isolation switches, inverters and installed wiring, and from deteriorating components.
The alarming figures come as the solar battery storage industry pushes to kill new regulations that would force homeowners to build a separate “fire bunker” housing for battery installations.
Under draft rules released by Standards Australia, lithium ion batteries are classed as “Fire Class 1” and would not be allowed inside or within 1m of a domestic dwelling. The industry will have until August 15 to respond to the draft regulations.
The safety moves are designed to avoid a repeat of Labor’s insulation batts scheme in which the rapid rollout of roof insulation in 2009 led to more than 200 house fires across the nation, and ultimately four deaths. Continue reading “Fire risk for solar and batteries”→
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. Continue reading “Battery Standards and Lithium battery fires”→
Until recently lead acid batteries have been the major player in the energy storage industry, particularly for off grid installations but they have serious limitations in terms of requiring customer maintenance and of course they are made from toxic materials.
Recently, Tesla’s lithium ion batteries have received a lot of attention due to their advertised low price and excellent marketing, however the lithium ion batteries are now receiving attention due to their fire risk on the release of embodied energy. Lithium ion batteries have a smaller operating range than most other batteries and won’t operate efficiently above 35 – 40°C. Also, lithium is a toxic material and is in limited supply and at this stage can’t be recycled effectively.
There are some new technologies coming onto the market, such as Redflow’s zinc bromide, Aquion’s sodium ion salt water batteries, improved lead acid and many variations of lithium battery. These each have advantages and disadvantages, both in terms of performance and size. Depth of Discharge (DOD)
Lithium-ion battery storage devices – including Tesla Powerwalls and other products – may be effectively banned from being installed inside homes and garages in Australia under new guidelines being drafted by Standards Australia.
The move, if upheld, is likely to send shockwaves through the industry, with thousands of Australian households, including prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, already installing lithium ion battery storage devices and millions more predicted to do so in coming years.