As we transition to cleaner energy options there are many large-scale battery projects currently underway or planned. There are significant risks associated with the deployment of lithium batteries, and many of these risks aren’t well understood. The pace of rollouts of lithium chemistry batteries is well ahead of the knowledge many industry players have regarding the risks involved with lithium batteries, and even the scientific knowledge of what happens if there’s a safety event.
For decades, system developers and engineers could rely on Australian standards and industry knowledge of best-practice to guide them regarding the safe installation and operation of battery systems. Such standards and knowledge do not exist for largescale lithium battery systems. The standards related to battery storage are either for other chemistries (such as lead-acid batteries), or for smaller-scale systems with significantly different risk profiles.
As an example, contemporary practice, and even standards such as the recent AS5139 focused on containment of lithium battery fires. Recent events around the world have upended this approach, as it was discovered that some lithium chemistries, in sufficient quantity can build up a highly explosive atmosphere during thermal runaway, resulting in a significant risk of explosion. First-responders have been injured, and containment systems failed, due to the unexpected explosions that occurred.
Other risks include managing the toxic gas emissions released during a lithium battery fire or handling the contaminated water from fire-extinguishment operations. Whilst technology vendors may provide test results based on single cell testing, the risks involved from a single cell are quite different to those from MW-scale battery systems.
The risks aren’t just physical – lithium batteries require careful management by a battery management system, which is often based on software, so cybersecurity and firmware update risks come into play.
Recent events in Australia and around the world suggest that the rollout of batteries is occurring well in advance of the ability of industry to fully understand the risks involved in largescale battery fires. Advitech is a huge supporter of the energy storage industry, and many of the risks here, once understood, are relatively straightforward to manage.
Advitech is working with agencies including Fire Authorities, testing organisations and technology providers to develop practical approaches to risk management associated with largescale battery systems.
Hazard Analysis for Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS)
Advitech brings a breadth of expertise to hazard and risk analysis of battery systems. Our Electrical, Process and Risk and Functional Safety Engineers work together to comprehensively examine existing or proposed systems.
Advitech can provide hazard and risk assessment across the whole lifecycle of the installation, from initial planning and approval to design and construction and operations and maintenance addressing hazard and risks that include emissions, fire management, noise, first-responder procedures, and electrical safety of largescale battery systems.
Advitech has extensive experience conducting preliminary hazard analysis (PHA) studies to meet development approval requirements from initial screening assessments through to quantitative analysis to determine likelihood of failure modes and consequence models for hazardous event scenarios. We can also conduct design, constructability and operability risk assessments with a range of assessment tools, including CHAIR, HAZID, HAZOP and Bowtie analysis to ensure risks across the whole lifecycle are understood and managed.
Where operating hazards are unable to be sufficiently managed through other means, Advitech Functional Safety Engineers can help determine if functional safety systems might be employed to address those risks. Advitech can use tools such as Fault Tree or LOPA to identify safety functions and corresponding safety integrity requirements. Advitech can also conduct verification and assessment activities for safety systems once they’re designed.
With our technology specialists and risk assessment experts, we are uniquely placed to understand risk and help develop cost-effective controls for any BESS facility.
Advitech has extensive experience in the energy storage, chemicals and explosives industries on control systems, risk management and compliance. We have an international reputation in the energy, clean technology and R&D sectors, and our team pioneered much of the work investigating safety issues related to stationary battery systems. Previous projects include:
- Dangerous Goods Report, Tomago Battery Manufacturing Facility – Energy Renaissance, NSW.
- Battery enclosure Design – Energy Renaissance, NSW.
- Battery system design and installation for remote environmental monitoring stations, Bowen Coking Coal, Broadmeadow East, Qld.
- Battery system design and installation for remote environmental monitoring station, Meandu environmental monitoring, Meandu Mine, Qld.
- Quality Management System – Certificate No. QEC 12004
- Health and Safety Management System – Certificate No. HSM 41705
- Environmental Management System – Certificate No. EMS 41724