Focusing on Energy Storage Safety
Recent events have caused the stationary energy storage market to begin re-evaluating and emphasizing safety approaches. While the market is poised for serious growth in the coming years, with many states releasing gigawatt (GW) storage targets, a rash of lithium-ion battery fires have caused hesitation in the marketplace.
South Korea, which currently maintains about 25% of the world’s lithium-ion battery energy storage capacity, has led the world in battery energy storage capacity for 2 consecutive years. However, there have been 21 documented fires in the last 20 months, equating to tens of millions of dollars in asset loss. Of the approximately 5 GWh of total installed capacity in South Korea, 200 MWh, or 4% of the installed capacity, has been affected. Fifty percent of South Korea’s energy storage systems have been taken offline.
Earlier this month, these issues hit home when a lithium-ion battery operated by Arizona Public Service (APS) caused serious injuries to 4 firefighters who were the first responders to lithium-ion battery issue in Surprise, AZ. Investigators have understood that during the APS fire an explosion occurred when the first responders opened the door to the battery facility after it was deemed safe to enter.
It was “inevitable” – at least to those of us who have worried about safety risk for a living — because the storage market has literally been mushrooming all across the nation, with Li-Ion batteries being the predominant technology employed for utility-scale installations and home systems alike. The market has grown so much, so quickly that codes & standards, and preventive regulations have not kept pace.
- Arthur O’Donnell – The Energy Overseer