Fresh concerns have emerged over the introduction of potentially industry-crippling battery installation safety guidelines, after the release of a draft report from Standards Australia appears to have upheld a controversial recommendation that effectively ban battery storage systems inside homes and garages.
The draft guidelines – which were first aired in February this year, and again by the Queensland industry regulator but quickly hosed down after a major industry-wide backlash – still appear to recommend that most current technology home energy storage units be located outside of homes, in independent “kiosks” or “bunkers.”
Clean Energy Council CEO Kane Thornton says the industry had hoped that the controversial guidelines would be scrapped after the similar recommendation from Queensland regulators, which also surfaced in February, was revised out of that state’s guidelines following consultation with industry.
And he said that a previous disclaimer from Standards Australia, that state governments did not have to adopt the recommendations, was not good enough.
“There do need to be strong standards across the industries, and therefore as this progresses, whatever standard is reached will be applied to the industry. …therefore we’re very engaged and concerned,” Thornton told RenewEconomy on Wednesday.
“Things have moved on, there’s been a lot of progress in terms on international standards and what’s happening in Australia. We now hope common sense prevails,” he said, adding that if it didn’t, there could be some “pretty significant ramifications.”
Industry players will also be hoping for some common sense, having already condemned the proposed SA guidelines as “ridiculous” and over the top, particularly in comparison with international standards.
They have also warned that the requirement for batteries to be housed in independent structures risked adding thousands of dollars to the cost of battery installation in Australia, making it uneconomic for the millions of solar households in Australia keen to store and batter manage their PV generation.
“In Europe, we have 30,000 installations and some of those have been around since 2010, and not one fire has happened, no one has been injured,” said Chris Parratt, who heads up the Australian operations of global battery giant Sonnen, in comments in February.
“There is a standard being released in Germany that allows for lithium-ion batteries to be installed in homes. So why Australia appears to be going the opposite way, I don’t know,” Parratt said.
“If you’re going to ban the installation of all battery storage in the home, you might as well ban all laptops,” said Richard Turner, the CEO of Adelaide based Zen Energy, which partners with one of the industry’s pioneering battery storage makers, Greensmith.
“It’s just a ridiculous position for this country to be in when we have the best renewable energy resource to harness and individuals can basically be energy independent in their own homes.”
For the CEC’s part, the industry body has pledged to mount a strong campaign to have the standards removed or revised.
“Heavy-handed regulation of home energy storage devices risks crippling one of the most exciting industries of the future before it gets going,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.
“We believe that as long as home energy storage units meet strong international standards and are installed by an accredited installer to clear guidelines, requiring units to be installed outside of a house is unnecessarily restrictive,” it said.