Power and renewables

Signing off on battery storage safety will aid the rapid uptake of renewables and Australia’s energy transition

Australia battery safety

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Duwayno Robertson

Duwayno Robertson

Principal Energy Storage Consultant

A spate of recent international battery storage incidents have highlighted the opportunity for Australia to put in place specific safety standards for large-scale, lithium ion (Li-ion) battery energy storage systems (BESS) prior to the forecasted increase in deployment of large scale storage.

By 2050, intermittent renewables such as solar and wind power are expected to supply over half of Australia’s electricity compared to 10% today, according to DNV GL’s Energy Transition Outlook 2020. To firm up an increasingly-diverse range of renewable, conventional and distributed generation, a large number of energy storage systems will be needed in Australia, the majority of which will likely be met by Li-ion chemistries.

By 2040 alone, The Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) 2020 Integrated System Plan expects the National Electricity Market (NEM) will need between 6-19 GW of utility-scale pumped hydro or battery storage. In Western Australia’s isolated power market, a large number of distributed and large-scale batteries will also be required for peak load support or for times when renewable production is low.

Several recent high-profile failure incidents with Li-ion batteries in South Korea and the US have demonstrated the need to address safety protocols for large-scale BESS in an Australian setting. This will enable the industry to avoid a host of potential risks, downtime and reputational damage, while also ensuring devices provide uninterrupted balancing support to renewables as and when required.

To minimize the risk of Li-ion battery storage incidents and optimize performance, DNV GL recommends:

  • Putting risk mitigation procedures in place: this includes undertaking high level risk analysis and ensuring that all BESS permits adhere to local and international best practice around safety and risk mitigation
  • Monitoring existing systems: the use of advanced battery analytics is the optimal way to actively monitor BESS performance and identify abuse case scenarios and thermal events such as fire and system failure
  • Putting prevention systems in place: these can detect and visualise early stage events such as overheating, electrolyte leaks, the build-up of gas , external temperature anomalies or performance abuse by inverters/system controllers
  • Defining Australian standards for large-scale BESS: while local safety standards exist for inverters, grid connection points, and other support systems, Australia, like much of the world, has yet to put in place specific standards for large-scale Li-ion BESS or to apply existing regional and international standards.

Expertise in data and standards
In advance of an anticipated surge in BESS installations, it makes sense for Australia to begin to develop a set of formal, nationwide safety standards to ensure manufacturers, installers, industry and consumers are on the same page when it comes to BESS performance and operational safety.

DNV GL is already working with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Victorian Government on the Australian Battery Performance Testing Standard (ABPS) Project to develop performance standards for BESS when connected to domestic or small commercial solar PV systems.

DNV GL is calling for similar steps to be taken for large-scale and hybrid BESS with the aim of developing a common set of standards across Australia. This will ensure end users are informed about the expected performance of a BESS, can compare systems on a like-for-like basis and are assured that systems have been performance tested against established protocols and performance-metric reporting methods.

Not only will this provide confidence in Li-ion battery storage system performance and operation, it will also compliment and support the rapid uptake of renewable generation and help Australia decarbonise the electricity supply in an incident-free, uninterrupted manner.

Find out more about our longstanding experience in testing battery storage devices and our data analytics software Battery XT and Battery XT Live. Which can help to identify risks to battery safety, performance and bankability and our GRIDSTOR offering, which provides independent and up-to-date recommendations for grid-connected energy storage systems to help guarantee their safe implementation and operation.

Contact us:

Duwayno Robertson

Duwayno Robertson

Principal Energy Storage Consultant