UK’s giant battery ‘farms’ spark fears of explosions even worse than the Beirut port blast

Posted: July 12, 2021 by oldbrew in Batteries, Critique, Energy
Tags:
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Image credit: energy-storage.news

The report says these batteries are not covered by the Control of Major Accident Hazards regulations, meaning they’re now popping up all over the place, sometimes near people’s homes. Any problems however serious have to be faced by the local fire services. Lithium-ion storage battery fires are far from rare, as well as notoriously violent, fiercely hot and difficult to deal with.
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The first thing you notice is the noise – a strange, low-octave hum growing louder as you approach across the fields, says the Mail on Sunday (via The GWPF).

It’s coming from a group of bland metal cabins sitting on land that was once used to grow wheat and barley.

Yet these new agricultural buildings are nothing to do with food production. Instead, they contain huge batteries storing electricity for the National Grid – a new form of crop for farmers scrambling to cash in on the ‘green’ energy revolution.

And, according to a troubling new report from leading physicists, these vast batteries amount to electrical bombs with the force of many hundreds of tons of TNT.

With the potential for huge explosions, fires and clouds of toxic gas, they could devastate towns and villages nearby, says Wade Allison, emeritus professor of physics at Oxford University and co-author of the report.

The batteries, designed as reservoirs of spare electricity for when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun fails to shine, are spreading around the British countryside. And this, says Prof Allison and his fellow scientists, could spell catastrophe.

It’s like a potential bomb,’ he says. ‘When batteries catch fire, you can’t just squirt water on them and put out the flames. It’s evident from our research that nothing has been done to tackle this problem.’

The issues arise when these batteries, made of lithium ions – which are also used in mobile phones on a much smaller scale – overheat.

If just one cell becomes faulty, it can lead to a domino effect called thermal runaway, which spreads to neighbouring cells, causing a battery fire.

The resulting blazes are difficult to control because they don’t require oxygen to keep burning and need tens of thousands of gallons of water to extinguish. Temperatures have been known to hit 660c – enough to melt aluminium.

Mail on Sunday said nearby residents, who were ordered to stay indoors, had their homes rocked by the explosion.

This is not nimbyism at all,’ Prof Allison adds. ‘This is a potential Grenfell Tower-like fire. People will be killed.’

A Mail on Sunday investigation has identified nearly 400 battery sites – from Newquay to the Scottish Highlands – which are either operational or in development.

And thanks to a relaxation in planning laws, 104 of these have been proposed in the past year alone – including in the village of Stocking Pelham in Hertfordshire’s Ash Valley.

When The Mail on Sunday visited, we were struck by the noise from the nearly four-acre plant.

The hum came mostly from the air-conditioning units keeping 150,000 battery cells cool in what look like white holiday cabins. ‘Keep out’ signs on the perimeter fence warned of 33,000 volts.

But the site wasn’t supposed to look like this at all, reveals Jo van Riemsdijk, a 48-year-old mother- of-two who lives nearby.

‘We were told that the first battery plant would be virtually hidden,’ she says.

‘The cabins were supposed to be a greeny-brown and the developers were supposed to plant trees to shield them.

‘What we have is a series of hideous white boxes that are very obvious. They make a hell of a noise.’

Yet there are plans for a second plant on a 3½-acre site close by and another proposal for a third to be housed on a nearby solar farm – just a field away from Mrs van Riemsdijk’s home.

Continued here.

Comments
  1. oldbrew says:

    The Mail on Sunday’s headline may be a bit exaggerated, but there is a problem, as its report says:
    The threat of fire is not merely theoretical. South Korea saw 23 battery farm fires in just two years. A recent battery fire in Illinois burned for three days and thousands of residents were evacuated.

    This fire…
    Morris fire officials decide to let fire burn at abandoned building, fearing more explosions of lithium batteries inside

    The mayor of Morris said the city didn’t know the building was being used to store batteries until it caught fire, and that he knows very little about the company that owns them.

    By Don Babwin | The Associated Press Jul 1, 2021

    The fire that started in Morris Tuesday prompted city officials to order the evacuation of 3,000-4,000 people in some 950 nearby homes, a school, church and small businesses.

    On Wednesday, as thick, black smoke continued to billow from the building, Police Chief Alicia Steffes said the evacuation order would remain in place until at least 9 p.m. and “might be extended.”

    https://chicago.suntimes.com/2021/7/1/22559542/batteries-exploding-as-fire-continues-to-burn-in-abandoned-building-in-morris

  2. We have a battle on our hands trying to get this government to take this seriously. However, we need to as this is especially dangerous in united kingdom. The over development of housing estates has left many areas difficult for fire engines to access and the water pressures have been dropped to service more homes…

  3. JB says:

    I watched a lithium fire demo in chemistry class. The instructor used a flask of water to start the reaction. It was immediately obvious that the traditional methods for extinguishing that kind of fire were ineffective, and water did not have any impact, seeing that water was where the oxygen was coming from.

    While working at Thiokol early in the shuttle program every employee was inducted into part of their safety program, on the nature and treatment of solid propellant. The chemical situation with propellant is very similar (mostly aluminum powder, HMX, and nitrate). Solid propellant is more reactive than lithium in water. Those fires aren’t put out–they happen too fast. Their biggest fear was detonations, which led to the policy of non-occupancy of any buildings that contained propellant, and special precautions and training for those personnel who had to apply instrumentation to the casings before testing. Every employee was covered by a million dollar life insurance policy. Management took safety very seriously and empowered the lowliest employee to shut down immediately any violation of protocol they happened to come across.

    To put this kind of potential chemical conflagration in residential areas is shear stupidity.

  4. oldbrew says:

    Safety message, Firefighting when large lithium ion batteries are involved [2017]

    The problem is that burning lithium-ion batteries emits large
    amounts of the very toxic substance hydrogen fluoride (hydrofluoric
    acid) when it burns or vents. Hydrogen fluoride is toxic both by
    penetration through the skin and inhaling. It requires a special
    antidote for the affected person and water alone is not enough for
    decontamination. Tests show that regular fire PPE turnout gear are
    not resistant to hydrogen fluoride for more than a minute. Also note
    that hydrogen fluoride may be toxic in levels below levels that is
    noticeable to the affected person.

    Source… http://www.cfbt-be.com/images/teksten/Leren_uit_incidenten/Fire-Fighting-safety-message_-Li-ion-batteries.pdf

  5. Gamecock says:

    ‘The batteries, designed as reservoirs of spare electricity for when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun fails to shine’

    Fuggodsakes, Mail on Sunday, please get a better metaphor. The sun ‘fails to shine’ frequently. Nightly, in fact.

    “Journalism: a profession whose business it is to explain to others what it personally does not understand.” – Alfred Harmsworth, founder of the Daily Mail

  6. Gamecock says:

    ‘And, according to a troubling new report from leading physicists, these vast batteries amount to electrical bombs with the force of many hundreds of tons of TNT.’

    What is that in Hiroshima Bombs?

  7. Roger,

    The extended, complicated grid with power coming from far away, battery backup, a foreign or domestic terrorist could do enough damage in a day that could take years to repair, or a natural disaster.

    California closed a major nuclear plant and several coal plants, buying power generated far away, now some of the necessary transmission lines are coming through forests that are on fire.

    Many companies that used to use adequate power in California are now located in Texas, including Tesla. But, Texas is doing some of the same dumb stuff, we have closed Coal power and are depending on more wind, solar and gas. During the Feb Freeze, they cut the power that was pumping the natural gas and water. Wind and solar and gas and even some coal had difficulties and we were without power and water for days. Major Hospitals in downtown Houston were without water.

    Climate changes in natural cycles, with internal self correcting influences, some that happen every day and some that occur over hundreds and/or thousands of years.

    They say that an open Arctic, with sea ice gone, is a disaster. Open Arctic, with sea ice gone, is absolutely necessary for evaporation and snowfall that rebuilds the sequestered ice on Greenland and other glaciers and ice sheets.

    They say that evaporation and precipitation and ice thawing all happen inside the atmosphere and that it can be ignored when doing energy balance calculations, and they all do that, ignore ice. The alarmists, the lukewarmers, the skeptics, all still accept peer reviewed consensus that is totally wrong. The IR out in the Arctic that is removing the energy that allows the ice to accumulate happens in a warm time. The ice does dump into the oceans and spreads on the land and does the most cooling in the cold times and does chill the salt water and form sea ice to turn off the IR out and snowfall.

    People do understand this, many do, but they will not say it because it is opposed by the peer reviewed consensus and mainstream media.

    Ice formation and thawing must be considered because it happens in different phases of the longer term cycles.

    On Mon, Jul 12, 2021 at 4:10 AM Tallbloke’s Talkshop wrote:

    > oldbrew posted: ” The report says these batteries are not covered by the > Control of Major Accident Hazards regulations, meaning they’re now popping > up all over the place, sometimes near people’s homes. Any problems however > serious have to be faced by the local fire servi” >

  8. Scott says:

    If there was a shred of forethought involved then there might at least be a realisation that the transportation sector needs all the lithium-based battery storage. Therefore these battery bins should be V-redox or Zn-Br or _anything_ that doesn’t involve supply issues (around Nickel, Cobalt and friends.)

  9. Alan says:

    I think the whole global warming thing is hysterical nonsense!

  10. oldbrew says:

    Alan — unfortunately most people are unaware that so-called greenhouse gas is nearly all water vapour, with a small amount of CO2 mixed in. Knowing that might make them less inclined to believe the absurd climate propaganda and alarmism appearing daily in the media.

  11. oldbrew says:

    Testing….oops…

    Crews battle Tesla battery fire at Moorabool, near Geelong
    ABC
    30 July 2021

    A toxic blaze at the site of Australia’s largest Tesla battery project is set to burn throughout the night.

    The fire broke out during testing of a Tesla megapack at the Victorian Big Battery site near Geelong.

    A 13-tonne lithium battery was engulfed in flames, which then spread to an adjacent battery bank.

    https://stopthesethings.com/2021/07/31/battery-bombs-more-giant-renewable-energy-batteries-explode-in-toxic-fireballs/

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