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Report: Increasing public fire risk fears ‘threatening wider battery deployment’

September 12, 2023

There is a real danger public opposition to energy storage could grow significantly as a result of fire risk fears, threatening critical battery deployment and, as a result, net zero goals, according to a new report from Firetrace International, a supplier of fire suppression technology to the renewable energy industry.

Nations across the world are ramping up renewable energy supplies in order to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement, and a corresponding rise in energy storage deployment is vital due to the intermittent nature of wind and solar power, the report says.

However, it adds that concern for energy storage fire risk is rising, and incidents that do occur tend to attract a significant amount of negative publicity. As a result, projects in the US and Canada are being postponed and politicians in the UK are calling for battery storage systems to be subject to checks by fire services.

The report also states that high-profile fire incidents in battery storage have also had an impact on the insurance market. It says the appetite to cover energy storage projects has declined, with some insurers even exiting the market. This has resulted in increased premiums, higher excesses, and difficulties in securing 100 per cent cover. Addressing the fire risk of battery storage has thus become a focal point for owners, contractors, and operators.

The report says regulation can play a big role in mitigating battery storage fire risk but, at present in the US, fire regulations vary from state to state, resulting in an array of different regulations informing design and installation. It adds that, while manufacturers in some states consult fire suppression specialists, others do not. The report suggests that states should adopt the International Fire Code (IFC) in place in New York and California.

“There are fire suppression companies who claim their systems can suppress li-ion battery fires and prevent thermal runaway,” says Brian Cashion, engineering manager at Firetrace International. “We don’t believe the industry can make these claims yet because there is no publicly available test data proving these claims in real world test scenarios and doing so risks a second wave of public scrutiny.

  • To read the Firetrace report, How to Reduce Battery Storage Fire Risk, click here

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