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Tesla’s Big Battery Goes Up In Smoke

July 30, 2021

By Paul Homewood



h/t Joe Public


Now who would have guessed?



  1. Joe Public permalink
    July 30, 2021 2:42 pm

    The Register informs

    “The “Victorian Big Battery” – an installation due to come online later this year – was commisisioned by authorities “to boost the state’s energy reliability, drive down electricity prices and support Victoria’s transition to renewable energy – as well as creating local jobs as we take steps towards a COVID normal.”

    The battery is currently succeeding on the jobs front: The Register understands that over 20 fire brigade units have scrambled to extinguish the blaze.

    Fire and Rescue Victoria stated the fire is burning in just one shipping container and that emergency crews are “working to contain the fire and stop it spreading to nearby batteries”.

    The blaze has sparked an air quality warning that suggests residents of nearby suburbs should move indoors, close doors and windows, and even turn off heating and cooling systems that suck air from outside homes or offices.”

    • David A permalink
      August 2, 2021 12:52 pm

      “ The “Victorian Big Battery” – an installation due to come online later this year – was commisisioned by authorities “to boost the state’s energy reliability, drive down electricity prices…”


  2. GeoffB permalink
    July 30, 2021 2:56 pm

    Apparently it was just being started up, so looks like a manufacturing defect rather than an age related failure. The big question is why didnt the protection systems trip out and if all else fails, why the last resort fuse did not operate. Just the first of what is going to be a fairly common occurrence. It seems rather stupid to pack them so close together, its a 300MWh array and the blazing unit is 3MWh. Can you imagine in 2060 when we are in the middle of winter, no wind, no sun relying on our batteries and they catch fire.

    • Ron Arnett permalink
      July 30, 2021 4:27 pm

      A battery fire is a conventional physical fire, an electrical fire, a chemical fire and a metal fire. Once a battery fire starts, continued electrical input or drain is often irrelevant. The fire likely started on the other side of the protective circuits so they would have no impact beyond cutting electricity.

    • David Wojick permalink
      July 30, 2021 7:01 pm

      And it will take several million MWh to make wind and solar work nationwide.

  3. James Neill permalink
    July 30, 2021 3:04 pm

    I am going to resist the temptation to come up with more than a few excruciatingly bad puns.

    • Joe Public permalink
      July 30, 2021 3:11 pm

      Oh go on, please generate a few, they’ll transform our afternoon.

      • Tim Spence permalink
        July 30, 2021 4:13 pm

        I haven’t the capacitance to resist, they should be charged with assault on battery.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        July 30, 2021 10:30 pm

        Shocking news.

  4. July 30, 2021 3:06 pm

    Now who could have predicted this? Apart from eminent physicists that is.

    See “Safety of Grid Scale Lithium-ion Battery Energy Storage Systems” by Profs Fordham, Allison and Melville.

    As they say,”Li-ion batteries can fail by “thermal runaway” where overheating in a single faulty cell can propagate to neighbours with energy releases popularly known as “battery fires”. These are not strictly “fires” at all, requiring no oxygen to propagate.”

  5. Ray Sanders permalink
    July 30, 2021 3:10 pm

    What massively irritates me is that the BBC choses to instantly highlight and dramatize a routine issue with a nuclear reactor in China as if the world is about to end but chose not to report on this serious battery fire. Biased? Not much.
    As a secondary issue just look at most of the comments from greenies on that twitter feed. They are blaming the press for overdramatizing a major fire! Seemingly if its “green” it could never be dangerous, one guy even claims EV car battery fires can be put out in 2 minutes…wonder how much he was paid for posting that nonsense.

    • Ron Arnett permalink
      July 30, 2021 4:34 pm

      It is very difficult to put out a battery fire in normal circumstances. If nothing else, they carry their own fuel which is capable of generating massive heat levels out of all proportion to the size of the battery. Many times they can’t be put out and just have to burn themselves out. And that is just a tiny laptop battery.

  6. July 30, 2021 4:30 pm

    A *snag* 🤣 — and if you live locally:

    ‘A toxic smoke warning was reportedly issued in nearby areas’

  7. Stephen Lord permalink
    July 30, 2021 4:42 pm

    Batteries work by having a fuel and oxidizer separated only by a thin membrane. It is worse than storing propane and oxygen tanks next to each other and inherentlt dangerous. The more powerful the battery the greater the danger. Lithium batteries are even worse because lithium burns in air and water. With water it ptoduces hydrogen which can then explode when air gets in.

  8. Graeme No.3 permalink
    July 30, 2021 5:51 pm

    The fire apparently started Friday morning local time.
    The fire brigade say they cannot extinguish it and hope it “burns itself out” (about 24 hours).
    The latest news is that a second battery is also on fire.

    Moorabool is just north of Geelong.

    • July 30, 2021 7:23 pm

      The whole lot could go?

      • Duker permalink
        July 31, 2021 2:07 am

        And this was just during the first 24 hrs of operation, once the peak loading comes in summer will be more pyrotechnics

  9. tomo permalink
    July 30, 2021 6:47 pm

    Nope … not newsworthy

    Never happened

    • Duker permalink
      July 31, 2021 2:20 am

      Watch the Climate Club turn this into an ‘anecdote’
      While it will be delivering MW when they want it , reliably is a different matter and Im really curious how it manages grid frequency stability or even if it will stay online if theres some sharp HZ drop

  10. Adamsson permalink
    July 30, 2021 7:16 pm

    Going to be fun putting that out

  11. Patsy Lacey permalink
    July 30, 2021 9:43 pm

    It was only a few days ago that Australia’s high commissioner to the UK wrote in the Daily telegraph how well their renewables were doing

    • Duker permalink
      July 31, 2021 2:32 am

      Of course they would when its coal and gas thats providing the base load. South Australia has a high wind generation, but they rely on 2 other states interconnectors where the coal generation is 70%+

      • Graeme No.3 permalink
        July 31, 2021 10:57 pm

        South Australia also has lots of gas-fired and diesel generation, for when the wind doesn’t blow at the right speed. These emit lots of “CARBON” but it must be invisible because no Green can see it.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        August 2, 2021 1:14 pm

        I never understand why South Australia’s energy policy gets so much publicity. The state has a smaller population than a typical UK county – Kent for example has a bigger population in one 250th of the area of SA. With all that high solar insolation and open space to site wind turbines and solar panels and not much demand to satisfy, it really should be easy for them to run on renewables. The simple fact that they can’t rather proves just how impractical renewables really are!
        Then again Australia has made nuclear power illegal (despite being one of the world’s largest producers of medical isotopes) so it’s anyone’s guess what they are thinking.

  12. Ray Sanders permalink
    July 30, 2021 10:29 pm

    There is obviously NO battery fire in Australia. I know this because the Guardian’s online Australian edition has NO mention of it. Now there’s a surprise!

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      July 30, 2021 10:56 pm

      Forgot to add that there cannot be a fire because the BBC haven’t mentioned it either.

  13. July 30, 2021 11:45 pm

    Certain GM EV cars also have a problem

    14 July “General Motors and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a statement Wednesday urging some Chevrolet Bolt EV owners to park their cars outside and away from their homes or other buildings, due to the risk of fire.
    GM also cautioned owners not to leave their Bolt EVs plugged in to a charger overnight”

    • Ron Arnett permalink
      July 31, 2021 8:03 am

      Don’t leave them inside anywhere, don’t charge them overnight……because they might burst into a massive fire that can’t be put out by any readily available means, such as a fire truck??!!???

      How can there not be a massive recall of all such vehicles?

  14. July 31, 2021 7:45 am

    Well the story is reported all over the internet, but not much in the media. The Sydney Morning Herald has some good photos:

  15. July 31, 2021 9:55 am

    So overall, let me get the picture here.

    These batteries are
    1) Very expensive
    2) Are not capable of supplying adequate backup to the grid in the event of a dearth of renewable energy.
    3) Are only necessary because renewables destabilise the grid.
    4) Have a high probability of being very dangerous.
    5) Do not actually generate any useful power.
    6) Are net consumers of energy.

    I just wonder what there is to like about them.

    • tom0mason permalink
      July 31, 2021 8:00 pm

      Apart from those few drawbacks handicapping reliable electricity delivery, they have a lot going for them! …
      Crony companies and corrupt government officials can make a large sums of money from them, while gold-plating their virtue signaling hubris.

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