First it was Australia’s new big battery that caught alight, sending chills down the spines of renewables investors and energy storage advocates.
Now the world’s biggest battery storage system in California has been taken offline due to an ‘overheating issue’, off the back of a hot American summer.
The 300MW/1200MWh Moss Landing energy storage facility is owned by Texan energy firm Vistra Energy, and is comprised of thousands of LG batteries.
Vistra began its preliminary assessment after an overheating incident in a small number of modules on Saturday, September 4.
That prompted the operator to switch the facility off so Vistra, battery maker LG and engineering contractor Fluence could assess the site.
“The North County Fire Protection District of Monterey County is assisting with the investigation,” Vistra said in a statement.
“The teams are in the early stages of this investigation and expect that it will take some time to fully assess the extent of the damage before developing a plan to safely repair and return the battery system to operation.
“We are working with our partners to ensure all necessary safety precautions are in place to minimize any risk during this process.”
Vistra says safety systems which monitor battery modules for signs they are running at above operational temperatures kicked into gear as intended, triggering targeted sprinkler systems at the affected modules.
Not the first issue for LG
It is not the first time overheating concerns have plagued South Korean battery maker LG, which announced a product recall in Australia for certain home energy storage system models produced between March 2017 and September 2018 earlier this year.
A second 100MW phase 2 expansion at Moss Landing, which was not affected by the outage and remains operational, has already been commissioned.
High profile incidents at grid scale battery storage facilities have led to concerns too many incidents like these could stall investment in batteries and hamper the energy transition.
Interim CEO of the U.S. Energy Storage Association Jason Burwen told media after the incident he did not see it stalling new investment.
Video: Concerns grow for regional NSW communities (ABC NEWS)
“The safety systems in place for the Moss Landing project worked as designed to notify operators of overheating,” Burwen told America’s E&E News in a statement.
“Grid operators, including California’s, expect to rely on increasing levels of energy storage to meet decarbonization and reliability goals and we don’t see that changing because of what happened with the Moss Landing project.”
Wood Mackenzie said last week 345MW of energy storage came online in the USA in the June Quarter, the second highest on record and 162% higher than the same period last year.
Around US$5 billion of battery energy storage systems will be built in the US alone in 2021.
Strike Energy goes green in urea hydrogen deal
The company now says it is looking to become a domestic leader in the hydrogen market, producing and purchasing green hydrogen for its 1.4Mtpa Project Haber urea development.
That will happen initially through producing 1825tpa of green hydrogen itself via a 10MW electrolyser, which “combined with Strike’s lower carbon natural gas from the Greater Erregulla region, will produce what is projected to be some of the lowest carbon urea fertiliser available in the market”, the company said.
That is still just 2% of the hydrogen feedstock of the plant.
But it is looking at other sources, signing a non binding MoU with Infinite Blue Energy and ATCO to collaborate on the Mid West infrastructure project and green hydrogen offtake, where Strike says Project Haber will be a ready buyer.
Infinite Blue Energy will bring the Arrowsmith green hydrogen project online next year, producing 25tpd of green hydrogen with plans to ramp up to 265tpd, while gas supplier ATCO is working with the Australia Gas Infrastructure Group to establish the ARENA backed Clean Energy Innovation Park.
The MoU comes at an important time for the nascent green hydrogen sector in WA. The group will be in a position to lobby the State Government for support just weeks after it announced a $61.5 million investment in the sector, including a $50 million fund to establish domestic market for renewable sourced hydrogen.
Strike plans to eventually turn Project Haber into a major “carbon sink”, which could displace 139,000tpa of methane linked hydrogen with green hydrogen produced in the Mid West and become a buyer of CO2 from heavy industries once its feedstock exceeds 40% green hydrogen.
Strike projects that inflection point will occur around 2036, three years after it projects the ‘breakthrough point’ occurring where green hydrogen crosses the $2/kg barrier and becomes cost competitive with fossil fuels.
“Project Haber continues to progress as the economics, carbon and collective benefits combine to make a compelling and beneficial investment for Strike, WA and Australia’s agricultural and farming communities,” Strike MD Stuart Nicholls said.
“Progression of these MOUs with two of the key green hydrogen developers in the Mid-West is a great step in accelerating the WA hydrogen economy.
“Incorporating green hydrogen in Project Haber’s urea production process will enable Strike to produce some of the lowest carbon urea possible and potentially create one of Australia’s largest carbon sinks, moving Strike into carbon negative territory.”
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