Fears are mounting over the potential dangers of a large-scale lithium battery at Greenbank set to transform Logan’s renewable energy capacity.

Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) like the one currently being built at Greenbank have been hailed as the future of renewable energy, able to store and discharge enough energy to power 66,000 homes for two hours during the evening peak.

Hundreds have popped up all over the world.

But a series of large-scale fires, including one in Queensland last year, are making some Greenbank residents nervous.

A spokesperson from the company developing the battery, CS Energy, said megapack fires were “extremely rare”.

“Testing shows that if one occurs, Megapack safety systems can control and contain a fire within a unit,” the spokesperson said.

She said the gases produced from a battery fire would be similar to those released during a “typical structure fire of a building or other infrastructure”.

“Only trace amounts of acid gases are released during a Megapack fire, and these gases come from burning plastics and not battery cells,” she said.

“The concentrations are small enough that they are quickly diluted upon contact with the air, meaning there would be no negative impact to air quality in the surrounding area.”

Local resident Bruce Fraser said the battery’s renewable capabilities and grid benefits were “absolutely crushed by the potential disaster effects”.

He said the major concern wasn’t the fire itself; rather the “fallout”.

“You’ve got 20,000 people living around here in all these estates, and [during a fire] all the hydro fluoride, carbon monoxide and lithium nanoparticles floating everywhere, will go whatever way the wind blows, and half the people drink from their water tanks,” Mr Fraser said.

Mr Fraser is concerned about the possibility of a “mass gassing” with lithium toxins contaminating surrounding suburbs.

But the developer of the battery maintains if a fire were to break out, the fallout would be akin to that of a “building fire”.

“Look at our roads, we can’t even survive a flood, half the roads were cut-off… so if we were to have a battery fire in those conditions, you’ll never be able to get medical assistance to that area,” Mr Fraser.

“We can’t be protected.”

Greenbank resident Bruce Fraser outside the site where a $300 million renewable energy storage facility is being built.

Mr Fraser serves as the chairman of a local group, known as the New Beith Baptist Church Power Liaison Team, advocating against the installation of the battery.

“I’m all for having a big battery system, just not in the middle of 20,000 residents with poor road networks,” he said.

“Of the 81 fires around the world, 30 of them have been in the last two years.

“Technology is getting better, but we don’t want Greenbank to appear on the list of fires.”

The individual batteries, known as “megapacks”, are made by Tesla.

Tesla’s advice to Australian fire departments is to allow a battery blaze to simply burn out.

“If there’s a fire, they won’t put it out, it’ll burn itself out and that’s just not acceptable,” Mr Fraser said.

Tesla’s megapacks are made using lithium iron phosphate (also known as lithium ferro phosphate, LFP, or LiFePO4).

The CS Energy spokesperson said this was a “different battery chemistry” from lithium ion (Li-ion), which is often used in mobile phones, laptops and electric bikes.

LFP is the safest lithium chemistry available,” the spokesperson said.

“Safety is the top priority for CS Energy.

“”We have partnered with Tesla for this project because they set the industry benchmark for energy storage product design and safety. 

“The Tesla Megapack 2XL units that will be installed at Greenbank are one of the safest battery storage products of their kind.

“The batteries undergo extensive fire testing and include integrated safety systems specialised monitoring software and 24/7 support. “

She said CS Energy was working with Tesla to ensure mitigation measures were in place and the “highest standard of quality assurance” would be undertaken in the factories and once the batteries arrived on site.

The battery is being built on Powerlink-owned land next to the Greenbank Substation on Pub Lane.

It will be operational by 2025.

2 Responses

  1. Graeme

    This “news” paper should be utterly ashamed of itself for drumming up baseless fear about grid batteries. It is absolutely essential that our energy systems are rapidly upgraded to get us off the burning of fossil fuels to slow down climate change.
    You are doing the bidding of fossil fuel companies that have been fleecing us for decades while knowingly causing climate change , the results of which will cost us all trillions of dollars and millions of lives.

    • Bruce M. Fraser

      Graham, with your background, Shame On You , unless you examine the evidence now available from Oxford Kent ,Sheffield and Newcastle University UK Professors,
      You would rather place Queenslanders in potential danger over Sales talk from Lithium Battery Suppliers , LFP is Highly Explosive and dumping thousands of Tons around the countryside for Future Generations to find a Future Solution on that . Cannot Dump in oceans, Cannot burn off , can make manmade Volcano !
      Produce your evidence that Lithium BESS is a safe option, and how future generation is going to dispose of over 500,000 tons of Lithium Cells in 25 years time. Bouldercombe BESS Fire and 80 other fires ,nothing to do with Coal at all.


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