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Industry Leading Survey Highlights 26% of Energy Storage Systems Face Fire-Detection and Fire-Suppression Challenges

A recent survey conducted by Clean Energy Associates (CEA) revealed that 26% of audited energy storage systems have deficiencies in their fire detection and suppression capabilities and 18% had issues with their thermal management systems. These findings highlight the threat of the lack of proper fire safety and its potential consequences to the future of the energy transition. The increasing deployment of Energy Storage Systems (ESS) globally is driven by the need to integrate renewable energy into the grid. However, safety concerns, particularly regarding fire safety, hinder progress, impacting public perception and regulatory approval. To address these concerns, a comprehensive approach is needed, covering risks from cell to site level.


Addressing these risks requires an approach tailored to each specific hazard. This involves adopting a micro to macro strategy to ensure proper protection. It is recommended to divide the process into two separate focuses; 1) addressing risks associated with batteries and 2) focusing on risks related to all other hazards in a container. Regarding batteries: It’s about thermal management, not just fire protection.

 

  1. Use reliable and thoroughly tested technologies and procure quality products.

  2. Employ battery thermal management systems to prevent cascading thermal runaway, that is, uncontrolled cell to cell heat transfer. Various methods exist to prevent thermal runaway, each with unique efficiencies. The proof is in the data. Refer below for testing on cell direct injection fluid immersion as just one of the ways to prevent cell to cell propagation.

  3. Install early detection mechanisms such as off-gas, hydrogen, and  smoke detection to provide early warnings in case of failure.

  4. Design containers to prevent explosions caused by toxic and flammable gases released during a thermal runaway event.

  5. In case of a fire, activate emergency plans and allow fire departments to handle the situation, noting that most suppression systems are ineffective against battery fires.

  6. Once a risk mitigation plan from the cell to container is in place, attention should shift to the site level. Implementing a risk-based approach to container-to-container fire propagation minimizes exposure to major economic distress and a potential catastrophic event.

 


As grid resiliency increasingly depends on ESS, there is a serious need for proactive risk mitigation strategies. The industry needs to collaborate to tackle these challenges. To that end, educating stakeholders on the risks spanning from battery cells to ESS sites is important to improve comprehension of relevant terminology, increase quality control measures, and promote heightened vendor quality control standards. The findings from the CEA survey serve as a reminder of the urgency in addressing fire-related vulnerabilities and implementing proper risk mitigation strategies. It is important that we make high safety standards a non-negotiable part of innovation and growth to safeguard the integrity of the sector as a whole.


Read the full 2024 Solar Risk Assessment at: https://www.kwhanalytics.com/solar-risk-assessment

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