Firefighters on big battery blaze in Victoria

The renewables sector has been on fire in the past couple years on the back of growing investment in the transition from fossil fuels.

This, however, probably wasn’t what the green energy industry had in mind.

Not long after beginning to charge up Australia’s new large battery, Neoen Australia’s Victorian Big Battery ran into some issues during testing on Friday, as a 13-tonne Tesla Megapack inside a shipping container caught alight.

Elon Musk’s Twitter feed was, as usual, not reassuring.

The Country Fire Authority responded to the blaze near Geelong on Friday morning and was still working to bring the fire under control over the weekend and today.

“Following the incident, the Country Fire Association (CFA) remained on site and with assistance from Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) continue to monitor the temperature decline of the two battery packs,” Neoen Australia managing director Louis de Sambucy said.

“The EPA’s air monitoring has shown there has been good air quality in the local community.”

“As previously advised, there were no injuries, the site was disconnected from the grid and there has been no impact to electricity supply.”

“Investigation preparations are underway and physical inspections will commence once the CFA have completed their procedures.”

The CFA’s incident controller Ian Beswicke said the fire began in one battery pack and spread to a second.

“We’ve had lots of specialists on site…all that expertise helps us come up with some really good decisions about what we need to do to respond to these types of fires,” he said.

“There was one battery pack on fire to start with, but it did spread to a second pack that was very close to it.”

“The plan is that we keep it cool on the outside and protect the exposures so it doesn’t cause any issues for any of the other components in the power station.”

The 300 MW / 450 MWh battery is being planned to provide a power reserve for the grid as well as industrial customers who could save in some instances up to $1 million a year from its operations.

It is slated to provide enough back up storage to provide 1/2 an hour of reserve power to 1 million homes.

Of course, lithium ion batteries are not the only forms of energy that have been known to catch fire.

A May explosion in the relatively new Callide C coal power plant in Queensland saw parts of the plant taken out of the system for weeks, prompting a shift to gas and higher power prices in the state.


Renault partners with Vulcan on Zero Carbon Lithium Project

Lithium developer Vulcan Energy Resources (ASX:VUL) has secured another major offtake partner for its Zero Carbon Lithium Project in Germany.

French car maker Renault has become the latest major industrial player to sign up to take lithium chemicals from the geothermal energy and lithium brine project in the Upper Rhine Valley, after Vulcan signed its first deal last month with LG.

Renault will be taking between 6,000 and 17,000t of lithium chemicals from the project each year from its expected opening date in 2024.

Renault is planning to have over 65% of electric and electrified vehicles in its sales mix by 2025 and up to 90% battery electric vehicles in its sales by 2030.

The Zero Carbon Lithium Project will involve the production of renewable energy from geothermal lithium rich brines, which will in turn be used to power the extraction of the battery metal via direct lithium extraction technology.


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