Public pushback and fears against large lithium based Battery Energy Storage Systems appears to be growing
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Large lithium-ion-based power banks (BESS) are starting to become a large part of green energy solutions everywhere when energy is harvested through solar or wind. However, there are fire risks and public fear and opposition against large BESS installations near residential areas appears to be growing.
CTIF.org has previously written about BESS installations and the fire risks that they can pose, especially if fire services are unprepared for the intensity of fires which can occur in lithium batteries.
Despite the fire hazards of lithium-ion: Battery Energy Storage Systems are getting larger and larger, which CTIF.org wrote about on August 8, 2023:
Moss Landing (Photo above) in California is now the world’s biggest battery storage project at 3GWh capacity. China is also building large lithium-ion battery energy storage facilities. CTIF.org follows lithium-ion battery safety, and in our article, we write about several incidents with large lithium battery banks.
The public debate, and fear around these installations, are currently becoming more widespread, with outright protests occurring in the US and other parts of the world during 2023.
The LA Times wrote in a recent article that "Battery storage is a key piece of California’s clean energy transition. But there’s a problem with fires".
According to the LA Times article, most recently, a fire broke out at the Valley Center Energy Storage Facility in San Diego County on Sept. 18. Although fire officials said the blaze was put out in about 45 minutes and extinguished by the site’s internal fire prevention system, businesses and the small number of homes within a quarter-mile of the industrial park where the facility is located were evacuated and shelter-in-place orders were in effect within a half-mile of the site".
Public opposition closing down development projects
Energy-Storage.News.com wrote on February 2, 2023 that local opposition in both the US and Canada has lead to BESS project cancellations throughout the continent.
"According to local news outlets, three battery energy storage system (BESS) projects in Alberta, Canada and another in Staten Island, New York, have been dropped in January alone".
The most recent example Energy-Storage.news cites is from Prince Edward County in Ontario (Canada) , where the local council refused to back two BESS projects of equal 3MW/12MWh output and capacity.
The article describes this as a "worrying development for an industry that is otherwise on a trajectory of accelerated growth, community members and authorities have been quoted in their local media citing concerns including fire risks and a lack of education as to what is being installed in their area".
On February 21, Silive.com wrote about proposed legislation to restrict the construction of a large BESS on Staten Island, New York:
State Senator. Andrew Lanza and Assemblyman Sam Pirozzolo are making their opposition to Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) known, officially announcing the introduction of legislation to prohibit their installation within Staten Island.
“While I firmly believe that this type of energy-technology is the future, the implementation has to be practical and responsible. Placing a large, sophisticated machine, filled with potentially explosive lithium-ion batteries, in residential or school communities is unacceptable. The fires caused by these batteries typically cannot be extinguished because of the presence of harsh chemical toxins, increasing the hazard and potential damage”, Senator Andrew Lanza wrote in a statement.
In the UK, 1874 signatures against BESS installations were collected in a petition by the UK government and Parliament, which closed on October 4th, 2023.
In September 2023, CTV.ca wrote about two brothers in London, Ontario (Canada) who are pushing back against a 400 million dollar BESS installation near their farm in Huron County.
Matt and Paul Cronin are pushing back against plans by the company that operates the St. Columban Wind Energy project to construct a $400 million energy storage facility, consisting of hundreds of batteries.
BluEarth Renewables says the energy storage project would store electricity from wind turbines that produce mostly at night when electricity demand is low, and then return the power to the grid when demand is high during the day.
They say they will be able to store enough electricity to power at least 138,000 homes for four hours.
“Is this the right answer? Is this the right location? Could there be other areas that aren’t prime farmland?” questioned Paul Cronin.
THIS TEXT WILL BE UPDATED
Photo Credit: Moss Landing in California is reportedly the world´s largest lithium-ion battery storage facility. Photo by LG Energy Solution