The Victoria Big Battery – due to become the largest battery in the Southern Hemisphere – went up in flames last week and continued to burn for nearly four days as firefighters struggled to extinguish one of its Tesla battery megapacks.
The battery failure has re-ignited concerns that the technology may not be viable or sustainable amid Australia’s transition towards clean energy alternatives.
An hour’s drive from the center of Melbourne, a fire broke out in one of its Tesla battery arrays at a 300 megawatt (MW) battery plant, two days after its project overseer, Neon, announced that the station was formally off the grid. was joined. The project was to be formally concluded by the end of the year.
Reports suggested that the fire started during the early stages of testing, with only one neighboring Megapack affected. Was able to safely disconnect the system without affecting the grid.
There were no casualties, and health reports indicated that the air quality in the local community was not compromised.
A Victoria Country Fire Authority (CFA) spokesman said the incident was prolonged because of the challenges posed by the lithium-ion battery.
“This is the first Mega Pack Fire ever in the world, that’s our understanding,” the spokesperson said.
“It’s hard to fight them because you can’t pour water on the megapack … all that does is extend the length of time the fire burns.” “The recommended procedure is to cool everything around it so that the fire doesn’t spread, and you let it burn.”
The cause of the fire will be investigated by several groups including Energy Safe Victoria, Victoria Police and the CFA.
Big batteries are at the forefront of Victoria’s world-leading plan to halve emissions by 2030, with the state becoming one of the first jurisdictions in the world to legislate a net-zero target.
Do Batteries Suit Australia’s Grid?
Despite an environmental push for the use of renewable energy as well as batteries, Ewen Marels, an expert in electrical grid systems and a professor of engineering at the University of Melbourne, said the technology was unsuitable for large-scale grid storage.
“He has a role to play,” Marles told The Epoch Times. “But not on the big grid.”
Marels explained that while lithium-ion batteries will become cheaper over time, the point was that a lot more batteries would be needed to fully support a large-scale solar and wind system.
“You can never make enough batteries to store for the grid,” Marels said. “In my opinion, that’s not going to happen.”
Notably, Marles pointed out that grid batteries only last for a very short time under high demand.
For example, South Australia’s Hornsdale Power Reserve – which was the largest in the world at the time of construction – produces 150 MW with a storage capacity of 185 megawatt hours (MWh).
The $172 million battery is capable of outputting a maximum of 74 minutes—insufficient time for moments when solar and wind are unable to move, such as on a windless night.
Marles suggests instead that Australia’s ticket to energy security lies in pumped hydro, which uses water reservoirs as a way of storing energy.
“For large, mass storage, I’d put my money on batteries before I ever put them on the water,” Marels said.
Snow Hydro, a government-funded electric utility company, is currently building a 2,000 MW, 350,000 MW pumped hydro storage system capable of lasting a maximum of 75 hours.
The Snowy 2.0 project is estimated to cost between $3.8 billion and $4.5 billion, but while carrying a 20-times price tag, the water-based system will be able to store nearly 2,000 times more energy than Hornsdale.
To add to the list of problems, Marels also highlighted the fact that lithium-ion batteries were not sustainable, despite the eco-positive portrayal by advocates of the technology.
“Batteries are not renewable because people make them,” Marels said.
In particular, lithium—a key element used in batteries—has a limited resource.
On top of that, Marels said that battery recycling was difficult and costly, which naturally led to more volatility when combined with shorter lifespans.
“Recycling batteries is hard, hard work,” Marels said.
News Originally From – The Epoch Times