However, the increase in batteries and their capacity can prove dangerous if a business mishandles them. Energy professionals must stay on their toes and keep up with the most recent safety information available to prevent unnecessary injury or damage. Here is what to know about safety for battery energy storage systems.
Now and then, those in the energy sector will likely run into a client who needs help understanding why security measures are vital. The additional time or cost could disgruntle them, and they need to know why these preventive practices are imperative.
A battery energy storage system can fail for many reasons, including environmental problems, poor construction, electrical abuse, physical damage or temperature issues. A failed system could cause the battery to explode, catch fire or emit poisonous gases.
Working with batteries can also lead to several hazards. Offgassing is a common threat, where the battery releases methane or carbon monoxide, which can lead to poisoning or explosion. Damage to the battery terminals can also strand energy, shock employees or cause fires. These can culminate in thermal runaway, where the overheated battery releases flammable emissions and generates enough heat to ignite them.
Knowing the risk associated with these systems will demonstrate why preventive measures are paramount. Here are three tactics to employ for continuous battery energy storage safety.
It’s essential to ensure a battery storage system operates at peak performance. For instance, checking the fluid levels is critical to verify the proper temperature and see if the battery is working too hard if it's liquid-cooled. Excessive heat and oxidation can lead to failure or shorten the component’s life span. Cleaning the unit and equalizing the battery removes debris that could interfere with the connections and cause hazards.
Everyone’s safety around the battery energy storage system is crucial. Therefore, implementing hazard detection systems — such as voltage and current monitors, heat and smoke detectors, gas meters, an explosion study and fire suppression — will be necessary features. They provide a way to force a shutdown, reduce a fire’s spread, inform first responders of potential explosives and assess all levels of a battery energy storage system. Knowing when there may be a threat helps workers evacuate safely and potentially prevent a dangerous event.
Running an old battery until it wears out can also present safety issues, as older components often become less stable. Along with the hazard detection systems, keep track of when a battery needs to work harder or fails more often — this is a sign it needs replacing. Additionally, knowing the part’s life span can help a company decide when to swap for a newer battery. Safe disposal is also crucial, so locate the nearest recycling center to lower the risk of later explosions in landfills.
It’s essential to ensure a facility follows the proper safety protocols as the number and capacity of batteries increase. Energy professionals must inform decision-makers of the potential dangers and recommend safety precautions to protect the well-being of employees and surrounding communities.