A Tesla Megapack battery caught fire at one of Australia’s biggest clean energy storage facilities yesterday, with residents reporting loud bangs, multicolored flames, and a smell of burning plastic, according to local news.
The Queensland site, which is owned and operated by renewable energy and storage developer Genex Power, features 40 Tesla Megapack 2.0 units, and one of those units – nicknamed “Big Bessie” – caught fire at about 7:45 PM local time, according to The Guardian, prompting authorities to warn nearby residents to stay indoors to avoid hazardous fumes.
The fire has been contained but the storage battery is being allowed to burn out under the supervision of firefighters, with efforts already underway to determine the cause of the incident, the operator said in a statement, adding that no one was at the site when the fire was first reported to the authorities.
"On advice from the Queensland fire brigade and protocols provided by Tesla, the fire is being allowed to burn out under the supervision of the fire brigade," a spokesperson for Genex Power said.
Queensland firefighters are currently monitoring gas levels in the Bouldercombe region where the facility is located. John Platt, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Fitzroy Zone Commander, said that residents have nothing to be concerned about in terms of air quality, according to ABC News Australia.
The Bouldercombe Battery Project in Rockhampton, Queensland went live in July and was touted by the regional government as being able to power 4,000 homes thanks to its 50 megawatts/100 megawatt-hours capability. However, it’s worth noting that the project isn’t yet fully operational, with the end of October being the target for the end of its commissioning phase.
Commenting on the incident, LNP Senator Matt Canavan, who is a supporter of traditional energy sources like coal, wrote on his official X account that Australia’s new energy grid is worse than its old energy grid.
A swift response from Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen came after, who said that a gas bottle caught fire at a service station last week, which set off a series of explosions and a major fire, an incident that didn’t seem to bother Canavan.
In 2021, another fire affected a Tesla Megapack-based energy storage project near Geelong in southeastern Australia. It burned for four days, prompting local authorities to send 150 firefighters and more than 30 fire trucks to the scene. After the investigation was finished, the probable cause was determined as being coinciding short circuits triggered by a coolant leak outside the battery compartment.