Battery Storage Fires Spark Safety Concerns

Release time: Aug 16, 2023

A series of high-profile battery storage facility fires this summer has prompted New York state officials to form a new working group focused on improving safety protocols and standards.

The latest incident occurred last week when a 23MW lithium-ion battery system caught fire at Convergent Energy's NSF Chaumont Solar facility in Jefferson County, NY. The fire burned for several days, releasing toxic smoke that forced local residents to shelter indoors. This comes just weeks after a 4MW Convergent battery erupted in flames in Warwick, NY.

Convergent has deflected responsibility to third-party vendors like Powin Energy and GE who supplied the battery systems. However, the frequency of such fires will likely prompt broader debate about the safety risks of large-scale battery storage.

Earlier this month, a solar farm in upstate NY owned by Convergent Energy also experienced a battery fire involving multiple trailers. Emergency responders contained the blaze, but state officials have voiced growing unease.

"After yet another fire at a New York energy storage facility, I have directed state agencies to immediately establish an interagency fire safety working group,” said Governor Hochul. The working group will identify best practices and improve coordination between agencies, utilities, and local officials.


Other states like Arizona and California have also grappled with battery plant fires in recent years. Industry advocates argue robust safety standards already exist, but rapid growth in storage deployments creates new urgency around implementation and oversight.

A May report for the California PUC stressed the need to proactively close safety gaps and ensure rigorous communication on risks as the state pursues ambitious climate goals. With global storage capacity expected to reach 1,500GW by 2030, safety has become paramount.

Fires at storage facilities can be catastrophic. A recent blaze at a solar poultry farm in Italy killed over 20,000 chickens. In Switzerland, a fire destroyed a PV-equipped industrial building. As the energy transition accelerates, improving safety protocols and training will be critical.


To prevent further battery fires, experts emphasize the need for rigorous safety protocols during system design, installation, and operation. This includes fire detection and suppression equipment, fail-safe measures, and detailed emergency response plans.

Newer battery chemistries like LFP also run cooler and may reduce fire risk compared to NMC or NCA batteries. Improved battery management systems can monitor individual cells for anomalies and prevent thermal runaway. Some companies are developing fireproof battery cases and advanced non-flammable electrolytes.

Ongoing research aims to better understand failure modes and improve manufacturing quality control. Regular maintenance and safety inspections are also critical. But technology improvements alone are insufficient without proper training and adherence to codes and best practices.

Implementing layered safety measures and continuing research will help minimize risks as large-scale energy storage deployments accelerate worldwide. Regulators and industry must collaborate closely to uphold rigorous standards.

At Renonpower, all systems undergo rigorous testing and are equipped with fireproof battery cabinets and active air-cooling/liquid-cooling solutions. Our commercial-scale battery storage solutions also integrate remote EMS monitoring for real-time visibility into battery health and early anomaly detection. With layered safety measures and strict quality control, Renonpower aims to set the standard for reliability as large-scale storage deployment accelerates worldwide.


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