Standards Australia delays storage guidelines after protests

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Guidelines on battery storage installation delayed after concern they amounted to effective ban on lithium-ion devices inside homes.

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Standards Australia appears to have delayed the release of guidelines on the installation of battery storage devices in homes, after receiving a barrage of criticism over proposals that the industry feared would amount to an effective ban on lithium-ion battery storage devices inside homes.

RenewEconomy reported on Monday that the guidelines, prepared over a period of more than eight months, would require so many safeguards that they would be effectively ban lithium-ion devices inside homes and garages and require them to be installed in independent “kiosks” or “bunkers”.

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The news elicited a major response from the industry, both on RenewEconomy’s public forum and within industry channels, asking why such limits on battery storage devices were proposed when there were no such restrictions on electric vehicles, which have large lithium-ion arrays, or of the handling of combustible fuels.

Standards Australia released a statement on Tuesday afternoon denying it was seeking a “ban” on lithium-ion storage, noting that any guidelines did not have to be adopted by governments.

But it also revealed that the public discussion on the guidelines would now not commence until April. RenewEconomy understands it had been planned for February. Interestingly, the time for public comment has been extended to nine weeks rather than the full six weeks.

The move suggests that Standards Australia – a voluntary body – is expecting plenty of feedback on its proposed guidelines. There is no suggestion yet that the guidelines would be modified before their release.

The battery storage industry feared that the guidelines – which could apply to devices provided by the likes of Tesla, Sonnenbatterie, LG Chem, Enphase, Sony and others – would add thousands of dollars to the cost of installation and go beyond any other country standards.

However, there have been no standards imposed yet on lithium-ion devices in Australia, which the industry admits is a problem because it could result in cheap and poorly installed devices.

“Standards Australia is working with stakeholders 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,” the body said in a statement.

“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.

“Following preparation of the draft, it will be released for a nine week period of public comment. This will afford all stakeholders the opportunity to comment on the proposed standard. Public comment is scheduled for April 2017 but this is subject to change.”

However, there are also concerns in the industry that uncertainty around the standards, and the possibility of tight restrictions that could be imposed, will have an impact on pre-sales of battery storage devices.

Battery storage, however, is now a big focus for the energy industry. Companies such as AGL are running trials that include the installation of 1,000 battery storage devices in homes in Adelaide, and networks across Australia are trialing lithium-ion and other battery storage chemistries to see if they can reduce network demand.

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has a 14.5kWh system installed at his Point Piper mansion, has been pushing storage as part of his attacks on Labor’s renewable energy policies.

“I have got ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation cracking to start identifying and supporting storage projects,” Turnbull told parliament on Monday.

“We have got so little energy storage in Australia. There is only three significant pumped hydro storage facilities in Australia and yet we are introducing all of this renewable energy. What do you need if you have got a variable source of energy? You need storage.”

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14 Comments
  1. john 3 years ago

    So Malcolm gets it, if you make 35 KWh of power and only use 10 during the day and 10 at night perhaps you need battery storage.
    Perhaps you only make 20 KWh and the same situation.
    In fact the average is closer to 15 total use, so it is a total no brainer put a 5 WK system in and from the south to the north produce between 7000 to 8500 KWh of power per year.
    Get a battery to absorb the extra power you make and use it at night.

    Now I agree standards are needed, and they have to take into consideration the prevailing safety of the proposed installation.

    With the management systems needed to install a battery there is no way it will cause any problems.
    You can not buy a battery and just go do a back yard job impossible.

  2. Michael Murray 3 years ago
    • solarguy 3 years ago

      Good dry sense of humour Michael.

  3. solarguy 3 years ago

    The last 3 paragraph’s is the only thing that money bags Mal is correct about with renewables. Storage now, along side new RE generation and some of the already installed wind and solar farms is a must.

    I think the best thing the committee can come up with is a toxic gas / smoke and fire alarm mechanism to be designed by the manufactures and installed in every battery they sell. That shouldn’t be expensive or difficult, it’s a common sense solution. However there shouldn’t be any change to keeping batteries out of the living envelope as I mentioned yesterday.

  4. Mike-at-goodbyegrid 3 years ago

    Ha, we can have gas bottles on the outside wall, but not lithium Ion batteries? We can have a CSG well within 200m from a house! Is there any limit to this hypocrisy?

    • George Michaelson 3 years ago

      Given what we know about fire risk, if you worked for the CFA in any capacity and had an opportunity to present on risk, what would YOU say, regarding bottled gas in rural high fire-risk areas?

      I don’t agree with the standards determination as its being described, but I can at least imagine inputs which went to the risk side of the equation.

  5. neroden 3 years ago

    Ban Standards Australia. This is ridiculous.

    The battery and solar companies need to state outright that if the “guidelines” are released with the ban, they will make an industry-wide agreement to outight reject Standards Australia and issue their own set of standards.

  6. Roger Brown 3 years ago

    Lithium Battery should have Bricks behind the unit/s in case of a fire . Murdoch would do a “Pink Batts” assault on all batteries .So far , Redflow Battery might get my money , but in no hurry .Mark 3 just around the long corner . Lots of updates and new software for the Zcell .

  7. Philip 3 years ago

    Standards Australia is not a voluntary body – it is a private enterprise that responds to a wide range of industry stakeholders seeking to develop standards relevant to their sector. Standards Australia is only the facilitator – it is not the developer of industry standards. That means the public should be cautiously mindful of which industry groups are represented on the committees, and which might not be represented.

    Standards Australia employ paid staff to administer and oversee industry stakeholders who volunteer their services to committee time. Many if not most of the committee members are employees of or otherwise remunerated by their respective stakeholder groups.

    It is true that published Australian Standards are not mandatory as stand alone documents however compliance with them can be made mandatory for example by inclusion in contract specifications or in meeting Council development planning controls. Thus a non mandatory Standard that for example included a ban on lithium-ion storage devices in homes could very easily be made mandatory.

    I have participated as ‘volunteer’ member on four Standards committees over the years. Committee membership is determined by the respective industry stakeholder groups and Standards Australia does have guidelines on achieving as broad a representation as possible. Thus, an industry committee could be formed and proceed through numerous meetings to a public draft stage, which is likely to be the first time the wider community will have even heard of the matter. By this time a particular interest group may have steered committee debate off course to favour special interests. This is exactly what occurred in two of the four committees that I was on.

  8. Stephen Hodson 3 years ago

    Sure as hell hope you Aussies set up for a good fight and settle this matter for the rest of the world to see…we need you to shine a path and set an example for energy storage proponents! On behalf of the rest of us, thank you for voicing your concerns. And if you haven’t yet, i hope you do. Electricity shouldn’t be a monopoly! Free the electron!

  9. Brunel 3 years ago

    AS/NZS 5139?

    So should not the body be called Standards AUNZ?

    And what do the Kiwis have to say about the proposed ban?

  10. Miles Harding 3 years ago

    There is something deeply troubling about that entire organisation.

    Firstly, think about the purpose of a standard. It should exist to promote good paractice across the areas relevant to the standard.
    Secondly, the standards are devloped through a voluntary mechanism. SA does not pay for the intellectual input to the standards. This is bourne by the commercial, academic and interest groups that come together to draft them. This mechanism is concerning, because it allows the possibility of the incumbent players, who draft the standard, influencing the result to their own advantage.
    Thirdly, the organisation should be very lean and essentially on-line only — there is no need for any bricks and mortar presence outside a small administration operation. The question should then be asked “how does this lead to the pricing model used by SAI?”
    Fourthly, a pathological need to re-write good internaltional standards exists within the SAI community.

    From point 2, I am confident that a ‘fit for purpose’ test would see many standards greatly reduced in complexity and a reduced compliance bruden for those seeking to use the standard, which gets me to point 3. SAI really fails the people here by failing to make the standards available to all.

    This battery furore is the result of many of us deeply distrusting the oversight mechanisms and SAI’s processes more generally and becoming concerned that it is being used as a tool of either some incumbents or of the same covert agenda that is driving the COALition’s fundamentally corrupt energy policy.

  11. Terry Nother 3 years ago

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    The First company invested millions in research and exacting quality standards. They are OEM for Volvo Heavy Equipment, The BRT Corp has regenerated millions of LABs all over the World. Whoever wants storage can expect a safe nights sleep and maybe even reduced insurance rates…good luck, Mate!

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