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100+ Electrochemical Energy Storage Accidents: How Can We Ensure Safety in Energy Storage?

100+ Electrochemical Energy Storage Accidents: How Can We Ensure Safety in Energy Storage?

2024-06-07 16:56

According to the EESA database, the global energy storage market witnessed a record-breaking growth in 2023, with newly installed capacity reaching 103.5 GWh, surpassing the historical cumulative capacity of 101 GWh. The rapid development of the energy storage sector is evident, particularly in the segment of commercial and industrial (C&I) energy storage. In the past two years, the C&I energy storage market has exhibited remarkable growth. In 2022, global C&I energy storage grew by only 14.58%, while in 2023, it experienced a year-on-year increase of 115%, reaching an capacity of 1.5 GW. The growth is primarily concentrated in regions such as China, the United States, and Europe (with Germany as a representative example).

Behind the booming market lies increasingly fierce competition. 2023 was hailed as the true inception of inaugural year for C&I energy storage, with not only major lithium battery manufacturers and leading players in residential ESS and photovoltaics entering the fray, but also many cross-industry players joining the battlefield with the backing of capital. Marked by issues such as product homogenization, overcapacity, and price wars permeating the entire industry. According to EESA statistics, in April 2024, a total of 30 companies launched 39 new C&I ESS models, indicating that the internal competition continues. The high degree of product homogenization also means that companies need to impress customers with better quality and cutting-edge technological innovations, low-quality products, no matter how cheap, will eventually be eliminated by the market.

On April 27, 2024, a battery storage container in the commercial district of Niermole (Rheyr district), Germany caught fire and partially exploded, resulting in injuries to two firefighters, and the police estimate the damages to be around 500.000 euros.Shortly after, a 250MW energy storage station in San Diego County, California, experienced a fire, which took the tireless efforts of 40 1ocal firefighters several days to extinguish. The recent spate of accidents has sparked renewed industry debate on energy storage safety. According to statistics from the 24 Trend Industry Research Institute, there have been at least 100 energy storage incidents globally since 2011. The 2024 white paper Insights from EPRI’s Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) Failure Incident Database Hereinafter referred to as "Report") released by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) on May 16 provides an in-depth analysis of the failure incident database of BESS. It concludes that 65% of energy storage station accidents are related to the integration of battery systems. This underscores the importance of energy storage integration technology as one of the core factors determining energy storage safety.

For instance, containerized battery energy storage systems have evolved rapidly from traditional walk-in designs to modular, plug-and-play and pre-integrated systems. These systems integrate components such as battery packs (PACK), intelligent power conversion systems (PCS), power distribution units (PDU), fire-fighting systems (FFS), temperature control systems (TCS), and intelligent monitoring systems (IMS), sourced from various suppliers. This diversity can lead to incompatible interfaces or unintended interactions between components.

The Report also indicates that 72% of failures occur during construction, commissioning, or within the first two years of operation. This brings to mind the BESS project incident at the Bouldercombe, Australia in September of last year, where the lack of timely integration of detection and protection systems during commissioning led to the accident.

The report also provides a summary on how to reduce energy storage system incidents. Key measures include preventing incidents through improved quality assurance and battery monitoring. The detailed analysis is as follows:

1. Preventing Design Failures: The report suggests the need for relevant regulations and standards (e.g., UL, NFPA), site-specific hazard assessments to consider all risks and failures, and robust sensing and monitoring to provide early warnings of design failures.

2. Preventing Integration Failures: The report emphasizes the importance of employee training and quality checks during the commissioning and installation of energy storage systems, as well as system-level failure analysis, particularly for interfaces between components.

3. Manufacturing: The report highlights the need for improved manufacturing quality control, supplier quality verification, robust system specifications, and factory acceptance testing.

4. Operational Practices: The report advocates for enhanced battery monitoring and analysis to strengthen BMS operations, generate trends and predictive analyses to identify potential failures.

Since its inception, Vilion has focused on the C&I energy storage sector. Its core technical team has over 16 years of experience in battery energy storage technology and applications. They have successfully developed and delivered more than 100 energy storage projects exceeding 2 GWh domestically and internationally, all with 0 incidents. Vilion is dedicated to providing high-quality, highly safe, and economically efficient C&I energy storage products to customers worldwide. To date, we have successfully implemented energy storage projects in over 30 countries, all of which are currently operating smoothly.

--References: Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)

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Vilion provides customers with comprehensive lifecycle product safety service guarantees. Our ESS utilize LFP batteries sourced from BNEF Energy Storage Tier 1 manufacturers, other key components also come from top-tier suppliers, ensuring high-quality products from the source. Vilion also offers timely and professional after-sales service, aiming to become the most trusted C&I energy storage solutions provider.

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100+ Electrochemical Energy Storage Accidents: How Can   We Ensure Safety in Energy Storage?
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