A photo of an exploded lithium-ion household energy storage battery is making its rounds on social media. The photo allegedly comes out of Victoria, Australia. According to RenewEconomy, Australia could see 50,000 batteries installed in households in the next 12 months.
Australia's federal government has thrown its weight behind energy storage which will fund promotion, local research, and innovation in the industry. Greg Hunt, the federal environment minister in Australia, said: "Increasingly we will see the adoption of battery storage, which is the key thing to enable people to go off the grid. This is clearly the future."
However, now with some proof that the batteries are not as safe as previously thought, some question marks are being raised as to what can be done to ensure the safety of lithium-ion batteries.
In one of our recent reports, the Australian Clean Energy Council were said to be putting emphasis on 'integrity and safety' in the battery storage industry. The recent photo would probably be on their radar after their intentions were made clear. The battery in the photo was developed by a company named Growatt. The company in question uses battery storage technology from China.
RenewEconomy wrote: "It is not known what caused the 'explosion' although it is assumed to be a case of 'thermal runaway'. It is not known whether it is an installation fault or a problem with the system, or some third party factors."
The CEO of the Energy Storage Council, John Grimes, said: "The fact that there is no standard means there is the opportunity for shysters and carpetbaggers to go out and put something in the marketplace." He further said that policymakers need to highlight the need for regulation and highly skilled professionals that can install the batteries.
Dean of Engineering at the Engineering Institute of Technology, Steve Mackay, when broaching the topic of training professionals to install battery storage devices, said: "With training not only do you need to have basic electrical theory, you need to look at safe working with photovoltaic cells, batteries, connecting to the grid and finally the financial and economic aspects of connecting to the grid."
Glen Morris, the chief technical expert at the Energy Storage Council, said: "Anyone can sell a battery storage system in Australia. I wouldn't be putting chemistries inside a building until I knew it was inherently safe."
Right now, the safety of battery storage systems cannot be ensured, even by companies that claim to have the A-grade products from China. The opinion of the majority of people considering taking themselves off of the grid is that they will wait out until there is an officially safe product available to the mass consumers.