Australia Considers Ban On Lithium-Ion In-Home (Garage) Energy Storage Systems? Not Necessarily

5 months ago by Mark Kane 16

First Tesla Energy Powerwall Reviewed Down Under (via Nick Pftizner/ABC News)

Australia, fresh off a media lashing by BMW for not being receptive to new “green” technology, specifically plug-in vehicles, is now drawing some more unwanted global attention.

Recently some media were alerted to the fact that Australia soon could potentially set strict requirements for home energy storage systems, such as those as Tesla and LG Chem who already have a foothold in the country, effectively banning it.

That would be pretty bad news taking into consideration how ESS could improve Australia’s grid, and help to leverage solar industry, which numbers more than 1.6 million households that are now looking for battery backup solutions.

Tesla Powerwall 2.0

The cause of the concern was apparently a leak of new guidelines being drafted by Standards Australia:

“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.”

Thankfully, Standards Australia was quick to deny (see below) its intention to ban ESS from homes and garages (although that really wasn’t what the original report was stating), but it will be interesting to see how the new safety standards are ultimately written, in theory they could be used to help utilities reduce the pace of diversification of power generation…that is if you are the conspiracy type.

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.”

source: RenewEconomy

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16 responses to "Australia Considers Ban On Lithium-Ion In-Home (Garage) Energy Storage Systems? Not Necessarily"

  1. Eduardo Pelegri-Llopart says:

    Here is a related story: AGL (South Australia) has a VPP (Virtual Power Plant) project ongoing that is leveraging batteries behind the meter (i.e. in the households), connected via a system from Sunverge that includes a 11.6kWh battery.

    https://cleantechnica.com/2016/12/17/worlds-largest-virtual-power-plant-trial-big-hit-sa-consumers/

    1. terminaltrip421 says:

      very cool, thanks.

      1. Eduardo Pelegri-Llopart says:

        if you liked that, check out this one: http://www.aemo.com.au/-/media/Files/Electricity/NEM/Market_Notices_and_Events/Power_System_Incident_Reports/2017/System-Event-Report-South-Australia-8-February-2017.pdf

        Its a report on a power system incident in South Australia. Its quite readable. It explains why PV and Batteries behind the meter make a lot of sense in places like SA.

  2. Ambulator says:

    I’m not certain what they are saying. The hazards of a battery depend on the chemistry. For instance, lithium iron phosphate batteries are much safer than nickel cobalt aluminum ones. How can they say the battery chemistry isn’t involved?

    1. Just_Chris says:

      The standard, as I understand it, will be designed so that an installer can look at the box the system comes in and know how he (or she) needs to install it. So rather than saying “this is a NMC battery” on the side, it will say this is a class 3 battery (or what ever they decide to use as the classification). This will then determine how it should be installed with different rules for each “class”.

      Clearly this is a very tricky thing to get right. Making the standard too strict and you block the cost effective installation of battery storage systems. Make it too lax and you end up with batteries installed in a dangerous way. I believe the standard is being written by the clean energy council who have significant interest in getting as many batteries installed as possible so I suspect that final installation standard will probably be more enabling than restrictive. There is always a chance that one battery supplier will battle with another to give their product an advantage but I hope this doesn’t happen.

      As for the “bunker” option I hope that this only relates to free standing batteries of a certain size.

      1. Ambulator says:

        Thanks, that makes sense.

        1. ydnas7 says:

          this is the same country that legally requires cycling helmets for kids and adults.

          yes, we care more about safety, than hair fashion.

          The electrics in a house tend to outlast the lifespan of both the builder and the 1st owner. Many battery systems put in today will last until they fail (just like a hotwater system).

          A standard must either.
          1) design for failed state
          or
          2) design for calender based removal from house.

          since (2) is not acceptable and impractable, a safety standard should anticipate that later on, eventually the electronics will fail. Current standards do this already for lead acid battery, this is merely applying similar safety logic to other chemistries.

          All electronics eventually fail. Let it be safely and without fatality.

  3. Alonso Perez says:

    It’s one of those things were they try to sneak in restrictions but get caught, then try to massage it.

    And no I’m not conspiracy minded, particularly, but we’ve seen stuff like this many times.

    1. Someone out there says:

      I agree, politicians do it all the time. One of the funniest examples I remember was when the fishery commission in the EU tried to sneak in new rules against pirating movies over the internet! WTF does that have to do with fishing?

  4. MDEV says:

    The Cabal have worldwide influence.

  5. Bill Howland says:

    I don’t see why this is such a big deal. As a net-metered customer in New York State, I’m prohibited from connecting any battery storage system. It is a small price to pay.

  6. Dave H. says:

    I have worked in the lithium battery industry for over 12 years. I would never have a large battery like this in an attached space. I would neither charge my EV in my attached garage. There have been instances in the US of electric cars burning down houses. All lithium chemistry contain volatile electrolyte. They ALL will burn if abused. The code writers are correct here.

    1. Djoni says:

      Don’t know which industry you worked in, but yes, many thing can burn if you put all the energy you have into it, but they will not all burn if abuse in the same manner.
      So, it’s okay to rule poor design, but not to rule everything of a specific technology just in case it could be one of them.

    2. Kevin Cowgill says:

      I have worked in the electrical industry for more decades than I care to admit.
      Having an electrical panel and a fuel source in close proximity is living life on the edge.
      There are too many UL listed panels and circuit breakers from the 1970’s and 80’s that seemed like a great idea at the time, but are probably starting to overheat as I type this.

      Unfortunately, circuit breakers don’t always trip.
      Fortunately for all of us, they don’t start as many house fires as they could.

  7. Mike I says:

    Talk all you want but when the first battery goes up in flames (along with the house) there will be more talk — and talk. Your insurance rates will go up and your energy savings will evaporate. Oh well. Listen carefully to the testing guys. From what little info is available on Li battery fire, it cannot be put out even with foam because the energy is local and it cannot be interrupted.

  8. Priusmaniac says:

    It would be great not to be conspiracy type but unfortunately so many real conspiracies have historically leaned that if you think its present in reality it is and much more than you even think. Cobasys NiMH to Exxon, EV1 crushed, Sahel biofuel plantation on purpose, Spanish PV ban, diesel cheat, thermoacoustic heat pump blockage, subsidized ICE vehicles by oilies, you name it.

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