Lithium rechargeable batteries are praised for their high-density energy storage, enabling various technologies to be realized. From drones to practical electric vehicles to large-scale grid storage, applications are emerging in endlessly.
However, lithium batteries have always had a major defect-flammability. Pushed outside of their working range or otherwise caught in thermal runaway, they may burn violently as a result.
This incident happened in late July at the Victoria Fort in Geelong, Australia, and great efforts were made to extinguish the fire. Let’s take a look at this project and see how this happened.
Victorian Big Battery is a grid storage project, similar to the neighboring Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia. However, the Hornsdale plant has a capacity of 194 MWh and a peak power of 150 MW, and the new project aims to go further. The Victoria project aims to install a capacity of 450 MWh and provide a peak power output of 300 MW.
The facility is operated by Neoen and built using Tesla Megapacks, which are large battery installations designed for grid storage purposes. Each Megapack contains batteries, inverters and thermal management systems, a turnkey, plug-and-play solution for grid storage.
Initial testing of the battery took place on July 30th, and it caught fire at approximately 10:15 in the morning. According to official reportsThe site was quickly disconnected from the grid, and the local power supply was not interrupted.
The fire burned for several days, At 3 pm on August 2, firefighters announced that the fire was under control. Lithium batteries tend to burn very violently and often re-ignite after a period of time, so the staff will stay on site to monitor the battery after a period of time. Take temperature readings every two hours so that any heating or reignition can be quickly suppressed.
Water is used, but not directly on the fire
The fire was extinguished by members of the National Fire Service and Victoria Fire Service. CFA Incident Controller Ian Beswicke talked about fires and pointed out the difficulty of dealing with such fires. “They are difficult to fight because you can’t water Megapacks… This will only extend the time the fire burns.” According to Tesla’s suggestion, Beswicke pointed out: “… The recommended process is that you cool everything around, so The fire will not spread, you let it burn.”
The battery caught fire less than 24 hours after it started running on the grid, According to the cited source Sydney Morning Herald. The rapid action of the firefighters prevented the entire facility from being burned down and restricted the flame from spreading beyond the second battery pack.
Out of great concern for people in the surrounding area, a warning was issued to people who were downwind of the incident. The Victorian Environmental Protection Agency deployed two mobile devices to the area. Despite the concerns and warning residents to close the windows and stay indoors, The official news quickly made the local atmosphere clear.
Obviously, the fire that lasted for several days in the grid storage facility was the result that no one wanted. However, subsequent events showed that the authorities were fully prepared to deal with this situation. There were no reports of casualties during the entire incident, and the fire was contained within a limited area of the facility. Only two of the many battery packs on site caught fire (210 in total), and electrical risks were properly managed to avoid disasters.
Questions about how the fire started in the first place still remain. Investigators may reveal whether it is an installation error or equipment or battery failure at the appropriate time. At present, this is a stain on the new battery project in Victoria. However, over time, it can serve as an example of how to safely manage lithium battery fires through proper emergency management. The future of the power grid and even personal transportation may depend on it.