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Considerations for battery storage safety in New York

Battery fires are less toxic than plastics fires

Consolidated Edison and NYSERDA

Con Edison of New York provides electric service to approximately 3.3 million customers and gas service to approximately 1.1 million customers in New York City and Westchester County.

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and support to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. A public benefit corporation, NYSERDA has been advancing energy solutions and working to protect the environment since 1975.

One of major barriers to expanding storage in New York is the lack of agreement on fire safety standards for battery storage devices — particularly lithium-ion batteries (To learn more, read “Fire safety issues dog battery storage growth in New York City, slowing deployment”). Energy storage deployments in New York City have been delayed due to safety concerns, as well as the lack of independent and transparent data on extinguishing and ventilation. 

DNV tested numerous batteries under fire conditions and measured heat release rate, toxic emissions, and extinguisher effectiveness.

There were several new discoveries identified in the project:

  • First, water was found to be a highly effective extinguisher, which removes doubt about using water on Li-ion rechargeable batteries. DNV found 0.1 GPM/kg of battery cells to be an approximate flow rating for water extinguishing.
  • Second, DNV found that battery fires are less toxic than plastics fires (on average) and that the required ventilation in enclosed spaces need not be excessive when appropriate provisions for mass and size of the battery are considered.

To learn more, download our full report: Considerations for ESS Fire Safety and read our Technical Guidance Note.