Queensland Regulators Backtrack On Proposed Restrictive Rules On Battery Storage

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Originally published on RenewEconomy.

Regulators in Queensland have back-tracked on proposed rules that could have effectively banned the installation of all battery storage devices inside homes and garages, and hopes are rising that Standards Australia will also modify its proposed guidelines.

The rapidly emerging battery storage industry was stunned last month when news emerged (on RenewEconomy) that Standards Australia was contemplating highly restrictive guidelines that would severely restrict the use of lithium-ion battery storage in particular.

This was followed by guidelines from the Queensland regulator, which effectively banned all battery storage devices from inside homes and garages, and suggested they be installed only in a separate “bunker”.

The industry reacted with horror, suggesting it would kill the battery storage market just as it was taking off, and that the guidelines were well beyond international and European standards in particular.

After consultations it appears that “common sense has prevailed”, in the words of one expert, and Worksafe Queensland has now modified its guidelines – warning that batteries are very unsafe if badly or incorrectly installed, but removing restrictions on placement.

It says that it will provide further updates once the Australian standard on BESS (battery energy storage systems) is finalised.

A draft had been due for February, but was delayed until April when word of the proposed restrictions got out. It is now thought that a “sensible compromise” has now been reached, and that the standard will broadly reflect ones in force in Europe and elsewhere.

“We are close to a resolution – and we are confident that we will come to a sensible outcome, a balanced solution,” John Grimes, the head of the Energy Storage Council, told a conference in Brisbane on Wednesday.

He said the proposed rules, such as those in Queensland, were “beyond prudent” and effectively required installers to put battery storage into a bunker, “like a pizza oven.”

Indeed, battery storage companies said putting devices in a separate enclosure might increase risk of fire. Some, like LG Chem, said their devices had been installed in more than 30,000 homes, and flown in aircraft holds, without any issues.

Grimes said he was hopeful that the new draft will be released shortly.

Reprinted with permission.

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Giles Parkinson

is the founding editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, an Australian-based website that provides news and analysis on cleantech, carbon, and climate issues. Giles is based in Sydney and is watching the (slow, but quickening) transformation of Australia's energy grid with great interest.

Giles Parkinson has 596 posts and counting. See all posts by Giles Parkinson