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Standards Australia begins consultation on battery storage safety, regulations

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Consultation has begun on the development of Australia’s first comprehensive set of industry standards and guidelines for battery storage, with the release of an Energy Storage Roadmap by Standards Australia on Thursday.

As reported here last week, Standards Australia has partnered with the COAG Energy Council – a ministerial forum for energy reform representing the Commonwealth, states and territories and New Zealand – to support the safe and efficient uptake of energy storage technology in Australia.h0us3s-Signs-Hazard-Warning-28

The first step in this process will be extensive consultations with industry, government, consumers and academia to examine what new standards were needed, which currently existing standards needed to be revised, and what international work in the field of residential and small-scale energy storage should be considered.

Standards Australia said the Roadmap delivered on a commitment made by the Energy Council in December 2015 to ensure that regulatory frameworks could support the adoption and safe application of emerging technologies and to work with industry and relevant authorities to support the development of battery standards.

The absence of standardised guidelines for Australia’s energy storage industry has generated much concern among stakeholders, as consumer interest in household battery storage systems rapidly gathers pace.

Over the last two weeks both the Australian Energy Storage Council and the Clean Energy Council have released their own set of interim battery installation and safety guidelines, as stop-gap measures until the formal standards are published.

Peter Coburn, the lead author of the AESC’s Battery Storage Guide – which will ultimately be a comprehensive 120-page document – told last week’s Solar and Energy Storage Conference in Melbourne that some of the most popular battery storage chemistries emerging right now, including lithium-ion, were dangerous if treated poorly.

Guidance was also seriously lacking on what sort of batteries were suited to which applications, he said, noting that the current number of potential solar plus storage configurations were “almost limitless”.

“Batteries are either more suited to energy or power applications,” Coburn told the conference. “Sometimes you need a little bit of power, over a long period of time, that’s an energy application.

“Other times you need a large amount of power and a large amount of energy delivered over a very short period of time.”

For off-grid customers, Coburn noted, “those power systems are critical to their lives, and as such need to be built very well.

“We’re still finding that some people are still not doing that well enough and are giving the industry a bad name,” he said.

“We’ve got to have some processes in place before this technology becomes mainstream.”

Dr Bronwyn Evans, CEO of Standards Australia, said the roadmap offered an opportunity to bring industry and government together in support of innovation and emerging technologies.

“We welcome the Energy Council’s support for the adoption and safe application of emerging technologies such as batteries” she said in a statement on Thursday.  

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