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Rumoured guidelines could derail Australia’s ESS market

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 14:40 -- Xuan Zhong
Rumoured guidelines could derail Australia’s ESS market

Australia has embraced battery energy storage systems as a means of storing its abundant renewable energy— but that could be set to change.

Progress could be derailed by a host of proposed new guidelines and recommendations by Standards Australia that would ban battery ESSs from being kept inside domestic premises.

The guidelines are thought to cover all chemistries, not just lithium-ion.

However, a comment on Standards Australia’s website, said: “Contrary to recent speculation, Standards Australia is not developing standards that will ban the introduction of on-site lithium-ion battery storage in Australian homes.”

A source in Australia told BBB that the rumours might have stemmed from a leaked draft copy of the proposals.

The source added: “I think the outside-only rule had certainly been up for discussion following the Samsung ‘explodophone’ stories.

“Standards – and particularly the government - don’t want to be seen as having not prevented a spate of fires.

“It seems this Standard rule – even if it went through - would not affect lead-acid products directly, but it probably would have put a cloud over the whole industry.

“It could possibly have been quite good for lead-acid products to be honest, but I think the push now is for product specific risk assessments, rather than blanket rules for specific chemistries, which is a sensible approach because new technologies might become prevalent over time.”

The source added: “I’ve heard that the lithium-ion manufacturers have suddenly woken up to the existence of this Standard after that story came out … before that they hadn’t been taking much notice of it.

“They are now putting some clout behind making sure the outdoor-only thing doesn’t happen, so we can expect some extreme lobbying in the coming months.”

Some reports have claimed the guidelines will be released in April, and will recommend lithium-ion ESSs are installed in exterior ‘bunkers’.

The ‘bunkers’ would be free-standing, fireproof enclosures, that would increase safety at the expense of the cost of fitting an ESS, effectively making it uneconomic.

An indicator of the potential standards comes from The Electrical Safety Office, part of the Office of Industrial Relations, and WorkCover Queensland.

The two Australian state’s workplace regulators have already recommended that ESSs be kept in exterior enclosures.

Australian website ReNeweconomy quoted Richard Turner, CEO of Adelaide based Zen Energy, which partners with one of the industry pioneering battery storage makers, Greensmith, as saying it was a ‘ridiculous’ situation.

“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,” he is reported as saying.

Questions of ESS storage comes as China battery giant BYD added its Lithium Iron-Phosphate (LiFePO4) B-Box ESS to a list of systems already on the Australian market by the likes of Tesla, sonnenBatterie and Panasonic.