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Fire crews called to Shell-backed MGA Thermal storage site

October 11, 2023

Shell-backed energy storage company MGA Thermal has reportedly suspended operations at its demonstration unit in Tomago, New South Wales, Australia after crews from Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) were called out to stabilise a dangerous heat build-up at the site.

Crews were called to the site at 5.15am last Friday (6 October). A statement from FRNSW said three employees “made it to safety as authorities established an 800m exclusion zone and evacuated 15 neighbouring businesses”.

Firefighters called in a “bulk carbon dioxide tanker from Sydney “as they sprayed CO2 onto the 14x3m over-heated machinery”.

FRNSW said firefighters were prevented from using water to cool the machinery due to the risk of explosion. Crews also used dry chemical powder extinguishers to douse burning electrical cables at the site.

In February this year, it was announced that oil giant Shell had provided A$560,000 in funding for the demonstration unit.

The demonstration unit, which is approximately 12 metres long and three metres wide, was built to provide a demonstration of the technology for prospective industrial and power customers.

A report published last month by fire suppression technology supplier Firetrace International said there was a real danger public opposition to energy storage could grow significantly due to fire risk fears, threatening critical battery deployment and, as a result, net zero goals.