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Lithium-ion battery storage may be banned inside Australian homes

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Lithium-ion battery storage devices – including Tesla Powerwalls and other products – may be effectively banned from being installed inside homes and garages in Australia under new guidelines being drafted by Standards Australia.tesla powerwall 2

The move, if upheld, is likely to send shockwaves through the industry, with thousands of Australian households, including prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, already installing lithium ion battery storage devices and millions more predicted to do so in coming years.

Standards Australia, a voluntary body that draws on expertise from the industries involved and key stakeholders, is expected to release the draft guidelines in the next week or so. But news of its proposals has already leaked, causing concern that the decision could bring the industry to a halt.

It is feared that the ruling, if upheld, could cause damage to the lithium-ion storage market – expected to be worth billions of dollars and expected to play a critical role in the evolution of Australia’s energy market.

Most of the 1.6 million Australian households with rooftop solar already installed say they intend to install battery storage.

It is believed Standard Australia will advise lithium-ion battery storage should only be installed in free-standing “kiosks” – or effectively a “bunker” as one source described it – which would likely add thousands of dollars to the cost of installation.

This will affect not just individual installations, including those looking to go off grid, but also “mass” deployment such as AGL Energy’s “virtual power plant” in South Australia, which it plans to replicate “across the grid”, as well as numerous trials being conducted by networks across Australia, and various “power sharing” proposals across the country.

It also raises questions about whether people with electric vehicles, powered by lithium-ion storage, would also be banned from households garages.

Extraordinarily, there are currently no standards for lithium-ion battery storage in Australia, as we reported back in March last year, but deliberations began in June, as we reported here. However, both the Clean Energy Council, and the Energy Storage Council have issued their own guidelines, which do not include a ban.

The proposal is being seen as going from one extreme to another, and well beyond where are other jurisdictions such as Germany or California, the other big household battery storage markets, have gone.

Australia is considered to be the world’s test market for battery storage, thanks to its extraordinarily high grid costs, mostly due to the pricing of the network, and its high penetration of rooftop solar.

Forecasts for battery storage uptake include 2 million within a few years (Morgan Stanley), up to 6 million by 2030 (Bloomberg New Energy Finance) and CSIRO/ENA predicted that battery storage capacity would outstrip rooftop solar by 2025. Industry analyst Sunwiz says 70 per cent of solar households are looking to install battery storage of some sort.

Two of the biggest players in the market – Tesla and LG Chem – both use lithium-ion, as do numerous other products such as Sonnenbatterie, Sony, GCL, BYD, Panasonic and Samsung. Enphase batteries use lithium iron phosphate.

Other products, such as Australia’s Redflow zinc bromine flow batteries, Australia’s Ecoult (advanced lead battery) and the US-based Aquion (water) do not use lithium-ion.

Standards Australia is believed to have taken a conservative view of lithium-ion based on recommendations from fire authorities, who took the path of least risk. This follows the ban of some lithium-ion phone devices on aircraft, such as Samsung.

But others say that lithium-ion battery storage devices have long been installed in homes, particularly Germany. This proposal goes further than those put out by International Electrotechnical Commission  and UL – formerly known as Underwriters Lab.

John Grimes, the head of the Australian Solar Council, said he would not comment on the reports of the Standards Australia draft.

But he noted that there are standards in the US and Japan that do not ban battery storage devices in homes. In Germany, where more than 30,000 devices were installed last year, lithium-ion battery storage was banned only in bedrooms.

“There needs to be clear evidence tabled that these installations represent an unacceptable risk,” he told RenewEconomy. “It has to be evidence based.”

The committee is understood to have included representatives from the solar and storage industries (both lithium-ion and other technologies), networks, consumer groups,  fire authorities and independent consultants.

Update: Standards Australia issued a statement on Tuesday denying it was seeking a ban, but was looking to develop a new draft Australian Standard AS/NZS 5139, Electrical Installations – Safety of battery systems for use in inverter energy systems that will enable the safe installation of battery energy storage systems.

“It is proposed that the draft document will contain provisions for:

• Installation requirements for all battery systems connected to inverter energy systems, covering all battery types; Mitigating hazards associated with battery energy storage system installations; and Classifying batteries based on hazards, and not chemistry type.

It did not release any further guidelines on its draft, other than to say it would be open to public comment, and government was under no obligation to adopt its rules. The battery storage industry has expressed concern that proscriptive guidelines would amount to an effective ban.

See our new story: http://reneweconomy.com.au/standards-australia-delays-storage-guidelines-after-protests-35946/

  

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  • john

    Doubt is the product of this standard.
    I expect the shock jocks and the more rabid representatives in the various parliaments to leap on this with joy.
    I can read the headline now ” Shock News Solar Batteries will Burn down your Home”.
    The old story peddled on solar was “it will never pay for itself in a million years” followed by ” the energy to make a solar panel will never be replaced by the panel” now the next stanza will be these battery things will burn your house down.
    Yes standards are needed and does not the battery pack have a management system to ensure it is charged correctly and discharged correctly?
    Without the management system it will sit there inert not charging or discharging end of story.
    It is quiet possible that for instance in the garage situation the battery should be protected from damage from the incompetent driver crushing it that is a given.
    if the Tesla system as used in EV’s is any indication the ones that have had terrible accidents have not burst into flames the petrol ICE vehicle have however.
    No doubt the insurance industry will give the final indication on this aspect as to safety and repercussions from installation.

    • solarguy

      Shock jocks and the Murdock media are just that, bloody wankers and oxygen thieves.

    • stalga

      Doubt is surely the product, every step of the way. They never stop.

  • Carl Raymond S

    How many people store a jerrycan of mower fuel in the garage? How many fry chips in oil on a gas burner? How many homes have log fireplaces? How many homes use scented candles and have curtains?
    In order to ban the Powerwall, Standards Australia need to show that the risk is of similar magnitude. If Tesla demonstrate that the risk is not in the same ballpark – Standards Australia must lift any ban quickly. There’s no way Tesla would build the Gigafactory in the first place if 2170 cells were able to spontaneously combust.

    • DevMac

      We’re still allowed to drive cars (carrying a tank of petrol) at 110km/h within a couple of metres of cars (also carrying a tank of petrol) travelling the same speed in the opposite direction with merely painted lines as “the barrier”.

      What’s the annual road toll again?

      The Australian Standards body should have a close look at road designs.

      (I know it’s completely impractical to change, but as a comparison for safety standards it illustrates the underlying imbalance between what’s new risk and what’s established or normalised).

      To add to you list above: bar heaters, cigarettes.

      • Kevin Herbert

        Right…so let’s ban cars…what great idea!

        • DevMac

          Whoooosh!!!

    • Albert

      Except none of those fuel sources have a reputation for spontaneous combustion.

      • Jason

        That’s what the BMS is for. And the BMS in a wall-mounted unit is an entirely different beast to the BMS in a Samsung Note 7.

  • wmh

    This sounds to me like a direct attack on the renewables industry. Why don’t they ban the other large energy storage, the petrol fuelled family car, as well? Haven’t they had a fire or too during their history?
    If this ban comes to pass (Heaven forbid) then there is a possible way around it. Most domestic energy is required in the form of low grade heat for domestic hot water and space heating so why not store this energy in the form of heat in hot water which can store 50kWh/1000 litres. This is much less energy dense than lithium batteries but at least you can put one in the laundry.
    The remainder of one’s stored energy can be stored in a 13.5 kWh Powerwall hanging off an outside wall somewhere. Power for summer heat wave air-con can be sourced directly from the solar PV and if some panels face west then power is available well into the late afternoon.

    • aussiearnie

      It’ll be very inefficient to convert that heat back into power….

      • darkdirk

        But you don’t need to . You use the hot water

  • tsport100

    Why does Australia have to have it’s own quirky standards for everything? This reminds me of the electrical power cord Test and Tag standard…. which any sane person just ignores as ridiculous. (an Australian Standard is not a regulation!)

    • Ozelite

      Couldn’t agree more. I import mobility scooters and standards Aust. are about to introduce a so-called standard that will prevent all models from being able to be used on public transport anywhere.

      • Greg Hudson

        Does this mean I will no longer be able to take my e-Bike on a train ?

        • Ozelite

          Nope – only mobility scooters

    • Jason

      A cynic might suggest “to protect the incumbents from competition”.

      • Miles Harding

        Cretinly one of the risks of asking the industry to participate.

    • solarguy

      Scare tactics by the Electrical Trades to print money. When was the last time you had any appliance in your home tagged to be safe for use. Answer, never right! But if you want a TV or a fan in hospital you wont be able to use it. It’s a load of cock custard.

  • aussiearnie

    I suppose that the batteries that power electric cars will need to be towed in seperate fireproof containers?

    • Andrew Thaler

      lol

    • Chris Marshalk

      So a 100kWh Tesla Car is Ok, just not a 7kWh Tesla battery.

      • rave swei

        maybe car is not Ok either

  • DevMac

    Does that mean this Australian Standard will also disallow mobile phones from being carried in pockets? There’s already precedent for this being a risk.

    I truly can’t see this being turned into a big issue. Bang it on the side of the house somewhere that’s shaded from lunchtime onwards or something like that.

    • solarguy

      Jesus Christ, Mentos and coke should be banned too! Hey, I could be a Mentos and coke cop and print money.

    • Greg Hudson

      Banging it on the side of the house would be a big issue for me…
      I’ve just bought a new house, and the whole bloody thing is made of polystyrene! Not exactly what you want to have a fire raging against. OK, it does have a render on top, but I’m sure that would not last long. I’ve seen some of these LiOn fires (online), and they burn very fiercely.
      https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=lithium+ion+battery+explosion
      I think I’d rather have a battery ‘inside’ the garage, backed by some fireproof plaster.

  • Ken Dyer

    Standards Australia is a voluntary organisation and have been responsible for more time and productivity wasting in industry than any other organisation in Australia. This is another of their parasitic money making propositions.
    This very matter was addressed by the Federal Government last year. The independent consultants found that the storage of lithium ion batteries was adequate to the task at hand.
    https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/1ac8df29-bb6c-4db6-8254-81fdba03491a/files/li-ion-battery-consultation-report.pdf
    The Queensland Government also issues a safety guide.
    https://www.dews.qld.gov.au/electricity/solar/battery-energy-storage/installing-batteries/safety-maintenance
    There are so many rules, regulations, standards and supervised procedures that are required for solar installations, the mind boggles.
    One would hope that before embarking on this exercise in futility, one should pay attention to the incidence of exploding solar storage lithium ion batteries. One suspects that the answer would be zero in Australia.

    • Solar Sparky
      • Pfitzy

        That wiring is a mess. This standard install for Growatt cells?

      • Ken Dyer

        One isolated incident does not a crisis of lack of standards make. This particular incident was well reported at the time and all evidence suggests it was a random occurrence caused by human error.
        http://reneweconomy.com.au/fire-sparks-concerns-over-lack-of-standards-on-battery-storage-52193/
        If you also refer to the installation manual, you will observe that the machine was installed incorrectly with insufficient space around it. (must have minimum space of 30cm of clear space all around it)
        http://ginverter.com/UpLoadFiles/20161129/Installation%20Manual%20Of%20PV%20Energy%20Storage%20Machine.pdf
        This to my mind was the main cause of overheating and subsequent fire, i.e. human error. Standards mean nothing if RTFM is not observed (RTFM – Read the fucking manual)

        • Solar Sparky

          Just because I only posted one instance does not mean it has been the only one. Just that it’s the one I had ready access to the photos of. As to the standard of the installation, isolator location etc…..well I’ll let the pictures tell the story. As you say, apparently not installed per instructions, well, walk into any town in Australia, pick 10 PV installs at random and I bet 50% don’t meet standards or manufacturers requirements one way or another. That is one of the problems in the industry. Cowboys and fly by nighters who won’t be around for the warranty calls. Too bad if you house goes up in smoke in the meantime.

      • Mike Shackleton

        I’d say that, being installed in a garage, on a brick wall (which cannot catch on fire) or outside on a wall that is fire resistant (ie. brick, concrete, cement block) is the standard that should be applied.

        Who would be putting batteries in their bedroom or loungeroom? Unless you like the obvious technology look.

        Not to mention in the case of a Powerwall 2 weighs about 120 kg. It’s not something you hang off a stud wall. It needs to be mounted to something solid anyway.

  • Tim Forcey

    Very unsafe to have in garages. Of course I am talking about stores of petrol.

    • Chris Fraser

      I’ve got 5L tins of mower fuel … makes me wonder.

      • lin

        Yep. My 5L tin of fuel is under the bench where the Li tool batteries are charged. And the iphone and laptop computer get charged inside. living dangerously!

  • Jason

    But parking the car in the garage with a tankful of petrol is still ok?

    • Mike Shackleton

      Or a gas bottle for the BBQ? Or, a couple of big bottles on the outside of the house for heating?

    • rave swei

      petrol in a car tank doesn’t start fire from normal operation or storage like Li batteries do.

      • Jason

        Are there numbers on how often spontaneous fires happen with battery systems that have a functioning Battery Management System (BMS)? And do these figures suggest it’s a higher risk than having a car in a garage where you might be drilling, grinding, using electrical tools that occasionally spark, etc?

        • rave swei

          how about risk of batteries catching fire while being overloaded, overcharged, drilled etc?

          • Jason

            Overloaded and overcharged are handled by the BMS. As for drilled – I think you’ll find a battery pack is no more vulnerable to drilling than a jerry can of petrol.

          • rave swei

            what when BMS fails? it’s just a piece of electronics? is it fail safe?

            that’s where the difference comes to: reliability of BMS
            otherwise car petrol tank without any active protection is as safe as Li battery with BMS. Not so unlikely failure of BMS makes battery inherently much more dangerous than car tanks. That’s why despite much larger number of petrol tanks around we hear less about fires caused by them than caused by failures of Li batteries.

          • Jason

            That’s a pretty wild bit of speculation.

            How on Earth could they ship a battery this size without a fail-safe BMS?

            I’ve spent a big chunk of my working life dealing with protection systems; the kind that keep chemical plants and power stations from blowing up and leveling neighbourhoods. The way to make dangerous things acceptably safe by electronics is *not* new technology; it has been a consumer item since the 1980s.

          • Kevin Herbert

            So have you read the Standards Report?

          • Jason

            Has it been released? My understanding the release has been delayed. If you have links, please share.

            http://reneweconomy.com.au/standards-australia-delays-storage-guidelines-after-protests-35946/

          • Kevin Herbert

            So you haven’t even seen the report, but your railing against it publicly….huh?…do you have science background?

          • Jason

            Railing against the standard? Interesting interpretation. How could I?

            I’m discussing the article above.

            And avoiding ad hominem arguments.

          • Kevin Herbert

            Oh I get it..you’re commenting on speculation about what’s in the Standard….and don’t be so precious snowflake.

          • rave swei

            big plants and power stations have duplicated or triple protection systems that are in many cases fail-safe buy the very nature – following a failure they cut energy input into system. but that is not the case with home size batteries. They usually have single protection systems while by their very nature energy source is impossible to cut off because it’s stored within the battery. They are like bombs that are not treated that way from safety perspective and that’s why they should not be allowed to be stored at home.

          • Jason

            To be clear: do you have any data on relative risks compared to storing petrol?

          • Kevin Herbert

            Will you answer his point re single protection systems?

            Rave Swei has made a very telling point.

            Your response re relative risks is a non sequitor in the context of this discussion.

          • bex

            nobody is going to force you to have a grid powerbank in your home, let it go.

          • rave swei

            it’s interesting to see “progressives” using this argument because with other issues they sit on the opposite side – wanting more regulation

          • bex

            My point is you seem very vigorous on your points almost like you have an agenda.

          • rave swei

            I witnessed in court in cases related to fires related to Li batteries.

  • Charles

    Standards Australia need to look at this: https://electrek.co/2016/12/19/tesla-fire-powerpack-test-safety/

  • Jason Van Der Velden

    The coal lobby got them too

  • solarguy

    I’m not going to be an alarmist at this stage, however I’m quietly concerned. I know a guy who is on the standards committee, he is level headed, intelligent and has been in the solar and battery storage industry for far longer than I have and the last thing he would agree to is this total utter bullshit. In fact he is a mentor of mine and to countless other installers and designers.

    So here are some facts about battery storage for hybrid and off grid dwellings as per the Australian standards and have been as long as I know of:

    1. No battery chemistry in relation to Hybrid or off grid installation is allowed inside the living envelope of a house. e.g living room, bed room, kitchen or laundry and I’m sure you get the big picture here!
    2. A garage has been ok as some Li – Ion batteries like Enphase are not IP 54 and so must be installed out of the weather. CGL, Powerwall and the newer LG’s and some others are IP 54 or greater (IP65 like GCL) and so can be installed out side of a house, on a wall. The IP rating allows this and in my view that is the best place for Li-Ion chemistries for mainly one reason and it’s not fire so much, as the very toxic gas that Li-Ion chemistry batteries can give off if they fail catastrophically. That gas will react with animal mucous membranes, worse than mustard gas and burn your respiratory tract, including the very much needed lungs!
    3. In my mind there is no need, what so ever, if these batteries that are IP 54 or IP 65 needing anything like a free standing enclosure if placed either outside or in a garage, if that garage is vented to the atmosphere.
    4. The fire authorities are the only one’s that may have a problem, but let’s wait and see what their concerns could be.

    In ending, I find it interesting that John Grimes of who I have acquaintance with from time to time, as I’m a member of ASC and the Energy Storage Council, didn’t want to make comment on the matter, but I’m sure he is getting info before he responds.

    What has been going on with politics and renewables lately, I have to say I smell a bloody big rat.

    • Chris Fraser

      If the spread of fire is at the heart of their deliberations, Li batteries probably wouldn’t need any further location design that we would use for propane-butane gas cylinders.

      • solarguy

        Chris, it won’t be the only consideration. Gas can get you while your asleep just like smoke and once this stuff is in your lungs the strong reaction is highly likely to kill you even if you get out into the fresh air. There is no treatment that I know of. It will kill you quick.

    • Andrew Thaler

      I dont trust John Grimes.. he works for the labor party and is hell-bent on unionising the solar installation business. He also strikes me as the kind of bloke who rides the wave, and runs with the money. Don’t expect him to work in the best interests of the RE and Battery Industry as that would clash with his Labor masters.

    • neroden

      Even this regulation is ludicrousness given that everyone has small Li-ion batteries in their house in things like their laptops.

      • solarguy

        I agree, as far as I know you can use your laptop on an aircraft. However some laptop batteries have caught fire of a certain Li-Ion chemistry of faulty manufacture.

    • Platypus Bushcamp

      i can’t see a problem with them being on the out side anyway with a small roof to protect from the rain

    • Hi Solarguy, thanks for your insight. Has any further study done on the toxicity of lithium batteries when caught in fire. The closest one I’ve found is this one: http://jes.ecsdl.org/content/163/6/A821.full However, I wonder whether anyone done an actual experiment to quantify the dangerous gases?

      • solarguy

        Go to http://www.gscs.com.au – click on resources tab and scroll till you find it.

        • Hmmm… do I need to register or something? I don’t see the resources tab 🙁 Only: Home, Company, Services, Expertise, and Contact Us

          • solarguy

            Whoops, sorry that’s “gses”

          • Hmmm… the https://www.gses.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/GSES_Battery-Storage-Systems_what-are-their-chemical-hazards.pdf again only ‘casually’ mention the HF production during lithium battery fire. I mean, if it’s that serious, fire department should have something to say right? I mean, I’ve seen lots of test done for the combustion safety (https://electrek.co/2016/12/19/tesla-fire-powerpack-test-safety/) but never risk assesment of HF gas treatment during fire. I wonder whether this HF risk is simply too low (I hope).

          • Hmmm… the https://www.gses.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/GSES_Battery-Storage-Systems_what-are-their-chemical-hazards.pdf again only ‘casually’ mention the HF production during lithium battery fire. I mean, if it’s that serious, fire department should have something to say right? I mean, I’ve seen lots of test done for the combustion safety (https://electrek.co/2016/12/19/tesla-fire-powerpack-test-safety/) but never risk assesment of HF gas treatment during fire. I wonder whether this HF risk is simply too low (I hope).

          • solarguy

            Ah, sorry old son, there is a very clear mention of the deadly gases, nothing bloody casual about it. You don’t have to have a fire for these gases to be released, just leaking electrolyte reacting with moisture in the air.

            For that to occur the battery would have to be punctured that’s all, even though the likely hood of that is remote. Perhaps you should sharpen your comprehension of what you read.

          • Thanks for your smart reply. That’s exactly why I need your help to educate my low comprehension on the why authority does not look the dangerous gas issue deeper? Maybe they are starting to look into it, hence the ban? Apology for my low intelligence.

          • solarguy

            I’m not saying you have low intelligence at all, just that after you read it, you didn’t seem to get that gas production didn’t need the battery to catch fire.

          • My apology, I’m a bit sensitive these days. I blame the coal being passed in the parliament. Anyway, I still wonder whether Standards Australia team looking into this also due to those gas production? I haven’t seen lots of media coverage about this issue. Maybe they starting to realise that this is serious risk?

          • solarguy

            All good. I would say they will be looking into the problem of toxic gas with some chemistries. I know one of the guys who is on the standards committee and he alerted me to this possible problem 2yrs ago. No matter how well a battery is constructed, these certain chemistries must be installed outside so in the event of failure, remote as it will be, the gas will be vented to the atmosphere because of it’s location outside.

            Having said that, I see no need to put batteries in a bunker or anything like that. A failsafe BMS comes with all Li-Ion batteries of the home scale, smaller ones like those that caused the hover board fires clearly didn’t have an effective means of stoping over charging.

            Standards need to ensure that all manufactures comply with safety measures and for someone to actually test them before they are allowed on to the market.

          • Kevin Herbert

            Great attitude Rusdy….you accepted your mistake and took on board the data….cheers

  • Trevor Toomer

    There are a number of different lithium ion battery chemistries, not all equally hazardous. According to available data from manufacturers, LiFePO4 don’t burst into fire the way some others can if over charged. Mobile phones, laptop computers, cordless power tools, all have lithium ion batteries.

    • solarguy

      True, but some can even if their under charged, NO BULLSHIT!

  • Jo

    This is the same standard organisation that request us as the only country in the world to have a DC switch for the solar panels ON the roof. And the switches do more good than bad.

    • solarguy

      There is only one reason that they keep that in the std, because sparkies need to be able to isolate the Array output, quickly and safely when modifying DC cabling and if there is a short in the DC cable.

      • Sean Sweetser

        you could just decouple from the last panel in the string to achieve that if it were the reason.

        • solarguy

          Yes you can, but harder and some times not quick enough. especially in an emergency.

          • wholisticguy

            A very rare emergency in comparison to the now regular risk of incorrectly installed, manufacturer defective or bad luck roof top DC isolators that have caused numerous fires.

          • solarguy

            I know what your saying, it’s true to my knowledge, but it still needs to be there.

    • Bill Gresham

      Jo. “more good than harm” or “more harm than good”?

      • Jo

        my bad, more bad than good!

    • Miles Harding

      Remember the solar gold rush. Some electricians were installing AC circuit breakers on the DC PV leads. All went well until the breaker was thrown at noon and the persistent DC arc would cause a fire every time.

      I don’t object to a panel isolator so that the inverter can be neutralised, but ‘on the roof’ was idiotic – out in the weather where the junction box can (will) fill up. Throwing it does nothing for the end to end DC potential on the panel leads.

  • raaj

    Good parasitic money making proposition by fund starved NGO … It appears NGOs all over are same proxy govt to make money on side lines

    • darkdirk

      They don’t make money from it

      • neroden

        Oh, you can bet someone is profiting from THIS bogus piece of work. Figure out who’s being paid by the fossil fuel companies…

  • Michael Murray

    Good news for Redflow.

    GREATER SAFETY
    • Fire retardant electrolyte, no thermal runaway due to separated tank and stack.
    • No fire suppression system necessary or safety abuse testing required

    http://redflow.com

    • john

      All true points however the present Lithium Battery’s also do not have a problem with the management system to look after it.
      I think Redflow does have a good product i just hope they can get sufficient sales to reduce the price then they will be absolutely the major player in storage of energy.

  • Brad Sherman

    Typical over-the-top Australian OHSE paranoia. Just because someone can imagine a problem does not mean that the problem is in any way significant or likely to occur. If there is a real fire problem, then this will surely be reflected in home insurance policy prices as soon as real world data support the notion that there is a problem.

    As regards banning Li-ion phones on aircraft in Australia, my understanding is that it is only the Samsung Note 7(?). All of the other millions of Li-ion powered smart phones are just fine.

    I can’t, for the life of me, understand why Australia, with a population about the same as the greater Los Angeles area, thinks it needs its own standards when CE and UL standards already exist and are presumably based on much larger data sets. Australian consumers are denied access to many great energy saving technologies (e.g. GE’s dimmable LED globes to replace R634 spotlights) because it’s impossible to justify the hassle and expense of jumping Standards Australia hurdles in addition to CE and UL certification. I can understand some special circumstances in remote areas with unusually harsh climatic conditions, but not where 85% of us live.

    This does have the faint whiff of using regulations to slow down change to protect vested interests.

    • neroden

      Why not just say “To hell with Standards Australia” and sell the products anyway?

      • Jason

        Carrot: Renewable Energy Credits can often only be credited for standards-compliant installations.

        Stick: Insurance companies are delighted to learn that a payout can be avoided by failure to comply to standards.

  • Brunel

    Powerwalls can be installed on the outside of houses.

    LiFePo4 cells are meant to be safer than the cells in Tesla cars and phones.

    There is a better design for smoke alarms – there should be a massive tax on old style interior smoke alarms. Along with a requirement to remove the old style ineffective ones whenever a house is sold or leased.

  • Mark Roest

    Clearly, “A cynic might suggest “to protect the incumbents from competition” ”
    On the other hand, in a year or so you should be able to get batteries with a saline electrolyte that could be used to put out fires, and solid-state electrodes that cannot catch on fire, for under $200/kWh capacity, not including shipping and import duties.

    • solarguy

      Mark salt water cells are already on the market. AQUION.

  • Rod

    I’m probably over cautious but I charge my electric bike battery outside due to anecdotal evidence of fires. Probably caused by overcharging.
    I have no problem mounting a battery on an outside wall. Most are narrow enough to suit most houses, Do you really need to have your powerwall in the lounge room?
    A separate enclosure seems to be a knee jerk overreaction to something that hasn’t happened yet.

  • trackdaze

    So i can park my lithium powered electric vehicle in the garage but not stationary energy?

    • Rod

      Until Standards have a look into it.

      • trackdaze

        Whats the risk they say no to the ev and all im allowed in there is a hardly ever used pushbike, unknown contents of boxes that never got unpacked in two moves and a risqué alcho/car girlie poster from one of those lad mags from the noughties?

        • Rod

          Are you one of those people who actually uses a garage?
          Most around me can’t get their cars in the garage I expect, coz they are all in the street.

  • MaxG

    Welcome to Australia 🙂
    DILLIGAF… 🙂
    I am proposing a standard on oxygen thieves 🙂

  • Jay

    Look beyond people it’s not because of fire dangers or any other legislation. The reality is that the government doesn’t want the whole of Australia being “off the grid” and self reliant. They would lose too much money. Just like the government stopped the benefits from solar panels and transferring excess power back into the mains. They are losing too much money for people to have lithium batteries in their homes. This is what dictatorships do, there’s always a hidden agenda.

    • iGraffiti

      If the powers that be don’t want people off the grid then they need to ensure home owners with PV are fairly paid for the electricity they export to the grid, and remove the Green Power 5c per kWH surcharge. With such a viable alternative to the bother of home battery storage, an increased uptake of Green Power will drive demand for industrial sized renewables. The industry and govt have created the need for batteries through its unfair pricing and mismanagement of the electricity market, and now they want to stop people responding to protect their investments. Stupid.

      • Jay

        Everything you say is true. But they still want you to buy electricity no matter what the price. That’s why they don’t want solar or lithium batteries. They will milk the most out of fossil fuels as they can, they probably have another 5-10 years of coal. But like you say people are waking up to renewable energy

  • Blue Gum

    Chances are these recommendations by fire authorities are from two recent incidents;
    Firstly, the low quality “hover” board incidents.
    Secondly, the defective Samsung Note 7 batteries.

    Both of which are worlds apart in both price and quality of the home systems.

    This is a classic case of kneejerk reaction based from ignorance of the subject matter.

  • Richard

    Even if they are deemed unsafe in a home environment by standards Australia it won’t make one iota of difference. The push back will be huge
    and a lot of people will ignore it.
    They will have to change their descision

  • Dizzy

    Me thinks that someone from the energy suppliers is whispering into the ear of Standards Australia in an effort to protect their dirty energy interests.

    • Jay

      Exactly, they don’t want houses being self sufficient.

  • Robert Comerford

    I for one would not have a large Lithium Cobalt Oxide battery close to my house. Those I know who understand the chemistry of these devices I have found to be of the same view.
    In this case I don’t smell fossil fool interference.
    I am perfectly happy to have Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries next to my bed however. Many other chemistries I would also not have an issue with having around the house such as flow cells.

    • Solar Sparky

      And that’s the key point – some battery chemistries are more hazardous than others, hopefully the draft standard will recognise this and not place excessive restrictions on the safer chemistries. Also, don’t forget that you can all comment on the draft standard when it is published and the committee must take all comments into account. Keep an eye on SAI Global for Draft AS5139

      • solarguy

        Sure will.

  • Andrew Thaler

    My expectation of the Standards Australia ‘draft-rules’:
    These batteries can only be installed while wearing HiVis clothing, which is arc rated.. (so thats $170 for a shirt and $200+ for pants).. the wearer must also wear insulated gloves, face shield, hearing protection, and you’d need at least 2 other people similarly equipped,
    a rescue helicopter must parked out on the road in case of mishap, and if there isn’t room on the road, then a nearby sports oval or school,
    an ambulance team must be on standby at site.

    The local school or sports ground must be evacuated for the helicopter.
    You have to notify the police, fire brigade and local council 30 days in advance of your intention to install a battery, and the fire-rated enclosure must be inspected for Asbestos… just in case those cheeky chinese snuck a bit in.

    The batteries must be handled and placed into the fireproof container by a remote controlled bomb-proof robot.

    And only a Nobel laureate qualified scientist is allowed to connect the final battery terminal to complete the circuit.

    All Home owners within a mile radius are to be evacuated to a motel for the first week of operation, just-in-case.

    Have I missed anything?

    • Brad

      How did you get that! did you hack in to AS

  • Radbug

    What has Standards Australia got to do with this? I thought that the insurance company actuaries would have already done their calculations on this risk. So, what risk premium have the actuaries placed on Li storage and how does it differ from Standards Australia’s risk assessment?

  • George Darroch

    Who are Standards Australia, and what powers do they have? (Serious question).

  • George Darroch

    Who are Standards Australia, and what powers do they have? (Serious question).

  • darkdirk

    Standards Australia breaks its few hours of silence:

    http://www.standards.org.au/OurOrganisation/News/Pages/Speculation-regarding-on-site-battery-storage-in-Australian-homes.aspx

    “Contrary to recent speculation, Standards Australia is not developing standards that will ban the introduction of on-site lithium-ion battery storage in Australian homes.”

    • neroden

      Weasel words. They are in fact trying to ban lithium-ion battery storage in Australian homes. They’re using “on site” as a weasel word to cover their insane “separate kiosk” rule.

      Liars. They should be shut down.

  • Miles Harding

    Has SAI got the wrong end of the rake again?

    The battery chemistry is one of the best indicators of the hazards likely to be encountered and battery hazards are not limited to li-ion.
    For example;
    Flooded lead acid evolves hydrogen when charging, redflow batteries contain bromine as one of their active materials and Vanadium flow batteries contain a lot of sulphuric acid as the vanadium solvent.

    Within the Li-ion family, not all cell chemistries are equal;
    Lithium Iron Phosphate is used and abused extensively in (sometimes dodgy) electric vehicle drive conversions and off-grid home storage systems. This chemistry is less energy dense the the more common Li-Co cells found in laptops, phones and Teslas, but our experience is that they are very robust and virtually impossible to cause a fire with and don’t vent explosive gases during operation.

    Tesla puts a lot of effort into management and construction of their batteries to mitigate the issues with their cell chemistry. Deliberate faults in the batteries demonstrate the effectiveness of their approach to battery safery.

    I would like to see how SAI intend approaching the issue if they are avoiding mention of battery chemistry.

  • Michael Nelson

    Good to see standards Australia stuffing it up again. What a delight it will be to pay SAI Global a couple of hundred dollars for an ill – considered standard. The marine seismic survey industry has been using lithium ion batteries for years with little incident. Putting in place costly controls for unlikely incidents is neither prudent nor is it good for our harnessing of emergent technology. Risk is a function of both consequences and likelihood. I can think of a number of controls that reduce fire risk in lithium – ion arrays on both sides of the “bow tie” – both preventative and mitigative, that would remove any need for an external “bunker”.

  • N Page

    First reaction is to call them a bunch of idiots. But no, they know what they’re doing. Stopping grid defections.

  • Pixilico

    The hopeless FF incumbents will do anything imaginable to stop renewables on the tracks. Their excuses will always be lame and cowardly. And there’ll always be politicians for hire out there to do the dirty job of harming the public good while shamelessly claiming they’re protecting it. Just look at some examples around the world: there’s even taxing of solar panels on one’s roof! We must be alert and fight back.

  • neroden

    Complete barking madness. Hopefully they will be convinced not to pass this idiotic ban.

    If they do, go ahead and install the batteries in your home or garage anyway, because they’re barking mad and it makes no sense to follow insane orders from lunatics. “Standards Australia” can only issue “guidelines” and stupid ones should be rejected with extreme prejudice.

    • solarguy

      Only one problem, if the recommendations are adopted by the Networks (a law unto themselves) any installer can receive a defect notice and a fine from them, if the do install against the AS std. So the installer won’t risk that.

  • stalga

    The plant rooms in commercial buildings that contain the switchboard aren’t required to be freestanding. Fire rated yes, but not freestanding.

  • Timothy Riley

    PyroPhobic Systems is a manufacturer of injection molded thermoplastic materials that have been evaluated and proven by NASA to be effective at containing runaway lithium battery events to a single point.

    PyroPhobic Systems manufactures Lithium Prevent, an injection molded solution to replace engineered plastics in lithium battery modules. PyroPhobic Systems manufactures millions of UL certified fire barrier products each year, we understand how to bring passive fire barrier products to market.

    A NASA white paper provides an independent evaluation of the product that concludes it is effective means to stop a runaway lithium battery event to a single point. Containing a runaway lithium battery fire results in significantly less risk and smoke is typically from a single runaway cell regardless of the cell chemistry. Other independent reports are available. Check out the website at: http://www.pyrophobic.com.

  • I wonder what makes Australian Standards committee consider this. What about HF risk? Does anyone know about the HF (Hydrofluoric Acid) gas risk? Link to study: http://jes.ecsdl.org/content/163/6/A821.full

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