Battery energy storage systems carry many tremendous benefits for commercial and industrial enterprises. However, throughout history, battery-based solutions have often been associated with causing adverse situations like fires or explosions. This blog will explain what problems existed before, how they’ve been rectified more recently, and what Demand Power (“DPGI”) does to ensure safe reliable service with our battery energy storage installations.
THE OPERATIONAL SAFETY OF BATTERY STORAGE IN ONTARIO
For any battery energy storage construction project, safety has to be the first and highest prioritized item before, during and after construction is complete. For battery energy storage systems in particular, safety plays a further important role in the long-term operations of a facility due to the long-term potential hazards. Ultimately, there needs to be awareness of these hazards, and mitigation plans that are put in place to minimize the risk to the battery energy storage system and personnel.
WHAT PROBLEMS HAS THE ENERGY STORAGE INDUSTRY FACED IN THE PAST?
Over the years, the energy storage industry has transitioned from using lead acid batteries to lithium-based batteries. With lithium ion power traced back to the 1970s, these batteries have infamously been associated with high-profile safety breaches and recalls throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Throughout yesteryear, adverse situations have included:
- 2006 – Sony recall millions of lithium-ion battery packs
- 2013 – Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner fleet grounded
- 2016 – Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall
Since this problematic era, numerous standards have been developed to better manage lithium battery safety. Nowadays, both UL standards and the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) standards govern battery energy storage safety. This has been a huge step in the right direction. Today, installations need to always meet stringent safety standards. This ensures that any installations are constructed with the proper precautions to avoid any adverse situations like fires and associated explosions.
HOW HAVE LITHIUM-BASED BATTERIES BEEN MADE SAFER OVER THE YEARS?
It’s important to note that today’s lithium-based batteries are much safer than those of yesteryear. One of the key advancements in lithium batteries has been the development of Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) batteries versus traditional Lithium Nickle Manganese Cobalt (NMC) or other similar derivative types.
Based on testing by independent labs around the world, newer LFP batteries are generally far less likely to catch on fire and explode, instead smoking out in a much more safe manner. Additionally, the operating windows for LFP batteries, generally, are larger. This allows for wider
normal operations windows before emergencies could be triggered. Mitigation plans have more time to be reached before rapid increasing temperature spikes in facilities could happen.
WHAT MODERN-DAY ADVANCEMENTS HAVE MADE A BATTERY ENERGY STORAGE SYSTEM SAFER?
Today’s lithium-based energy storage solutions operate with several preventative safety measures in place. Ultimately, modern-day advancements have made these installations much safer. Today, gold standard preventative safety measures include having situational awareness of the battery system, the racks, and the individual battery cells through a robust Battery Management System (BMS).
A modern Battery Management System (BMS) allows facilities access to detailed alarm management and automated proactive shutdown. This is crucial when temperatures or other adverse conditions are outside the standard operating range. Elsewhere, the modern era has seen steel containers being used too. These contain potential hazards and also contain any potential adverse situations that could threaten the environment.
Additionally, a properly sized HVAC, which has the ability to rapidly evacuate gases in the container environment, is key too. Working in conjunction with gas detection systems, this allows for proactive evacuation of toxic or explosive gases, in turn helping to avoid adverse situations.
With the final preventative safety measure being fire suppression, it’s important to note that all aforementioned systems have to be monitored and maintained in concert. Moreover, security cameras and proper maintenance around a steel container ensures the safest possible conditions, allowing for safe operations in turn.
DEMAND POWER ALWAYS RIGOROUSLY TESTS ALL INSTALLATIONS FOR SAFE AND RELIABLE SERVICE
- We use LFP energy storage batteries
- BMS situational awareness is applied to the battery cell level
- All our systems are installed in steel outdoor containers
- Every one of our systems is UL rated
- All our systems have HVAC, gas detection and fire suppression, built as standard
Additionally, Demand Power (“DPGI”) works with local authorities and fire safety personnel to ensure commercial and industrial enterprises understand the risks and mitigation measures that we put in place.
The goal is for facilities to never experience an adverse situation. So that’s why we plan for them. Our safety envelope ensures that if an adverse situation ever occurs, the likelihood or a fire or explosion is minimized.
If you have any questions, please call 855-336-2638 and the Demand Power (“DPGI”) team will be happy to field them.