Hailed as the ‘next energy revolution' energy storage technologies are expected to rapidly decline in costs in the coming years. Concurrently, new pricing structures for network usage are likely to focus on cost-reflectivity, providing increased incentive for consumers to reduce the ‘peakiness’ of their power. Indeed storage systems are already being installed by some first-movers.
Australia has extensive experience with battery installations used in off-grid households and, although standards are in place for these battery technologies they have not kept pace with current technological trends. Similarly, while qualified installers are used in the design and deployment of off-grid power systems in remote areas the installers engaged for household and small business systems may not be as experienced with battery installations.
Given the pace of technology uptake experienced with solar PV in Australia it is critical that a detailed investigation is done to understand the risks created by domestic and small businesses energy storage systems and the necessary steps to take to ensure the integrity of these installations in Australia.
In order to promote the development of best practice battery installation and ensure industry integrity the CEC has engaged CSIRO to undertake a comprehensive research study to produce Australia’s first and most comprehensive assessment of stationary battery technologies and the safety risks they present. The study analyses in detail the applicable standards and installation practices for battery systems in Australian homes and small businesses while identifying gaps in standards and recommending priority actions to ensure ongoing integrity of this emerging industry.
Although the technology and risks of stationary batteries of this scale are not well understood by consumers, it is important to recognise that they are already ubiquitous in modern life – similar to other household items with safety risks, like barbeque gas bottles and fuel tanks.
This makes it all the more important to address standards and installation best practices, and the CSIRO has clearly identified some key recommendations for immediate action. The Clean Energy Council supports all of these recommendations.
Watch the presentations from the workshop held on 25 November 2015 featuring speakers from the Clean Energy Council, ARENA and the CSIRO. The video is split in to three parts.
This report’s findings and recommendations are now important to ensuring the integrity of a battery installation industry. While some of them are being considered through the Australian Energy Storage Roadmap, like the implementation of a grid-connect battery storage endorsement for solar PV installers. Others require government leadership.
The report’s six recommendations extend across four main areas:
- Availability of accurate information
- Training and accreditation for system installers and designers
- Research and standards development
- Recycling and disposal practices
More specifically the recommendations include:
- Improve awareness of and access to information on the variety of battery energy storage technologies and their appropriate operation and care among consumers (general public), designers (engineers and electrical tradespeople) and installers (electrical tradespeople).
- Research and identify the best methods for lithium-ion battery storage system recycling, and establish a lithium-ion battery recycling initiative.
- Research and identify the best methods to safely (passively) extinguish domestic and small commercial scale lithium-ion battery storage fires.
- Align Australian and international standards, and improve local regulatory and building codes relevant to energy storage systems.
- Establish a set of best practices specific to the battery storage industry, including development and upkeep of an installation, maintenance and incident reporting database for energy storage systems in Australia.
- Develop training and nationally recognised accreditation pathways for designers and installers specific to energy storage in domestic and small commercial scales.
The role of this study in the FPDI program
This task fits within the FPDI project’s ‘Storage and Demand Side Management’ work stream which has the objective of addressing the technical and information barriers to the uptake of storage and demand side management technologies.
It provides a comprehensive assessment of best practice for battery installation and promotes the standards development, installer training and accreditation and environmental considerations with regards to battery technologies. Ultimately this work will form a sound basis for ensuring industry integrity and a solid foundation for a strong stationary battery industry in Australia, which can deliver benefits for consumers in the long term.