Neoen to turn Tesla Megapacks back on in big battery after July fire
A Tesla Megapack in Moss Landing, California
Andrew Evers | CNBC
Neoen, a Victorian safety regulator for electricity gas and pipelines granted Tesla permission to “reenergisation tests of the Victorian Big Battery”, Neoen announced in an emailed message on Monday.
Neoen is the owner and operator of Victoria’s Big Battery. It is one world’s most powerful energy storage system. The battery is designed to prevent blackouts and provide electricity for homes with renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.
Neoen, a Paris-based company, created the website with AusNet, Tesla Energy, and AusNet. UGL was involved in some of the construction. Tesla did not disclose its sources for the project, nor the types of batteries it used to power the Megapacks. These are battery-based lithium-ion storage systems.
Tesla has not yet responded to my request for comment.
On July 30, Geelong (Victoria) saw a fire at its battery site. The 300 megawatt facility (450 megawatt hour) was set ablaze by two Tesla Megapacks. There were no reported injuries, however the fire caused a toxic alert for nearby residents.
The fire was fought by 150 Fire Fighters from Country Fire Authority Victoria, and Fire Rescue Victoria. There were also dozens of support vehicles, fire trucks, and drones to monitor the temperatures. No other Megapacks were affected by the flames. There are 210 of them.
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By Aug. 1, two days after the eruption, fire fighters stopped using water on site. It was declared in control by the Country Fire Authority on August 2.
Neoen and Tesla were then asked to stop operations at Geelong by WorkSafe Victoria, Energy Safe Victoria, the Environment Protection Authority and Country Fire Authority. This was in order for them to complete parallel investigations.
Neoen expects the results of a full, independent investigation — conducted by Energy Safety Response Group and Fisher Engineering — to be released to the public in November.
The spokesperson stated that the cause of fire was two brief circuits at particular sites, likely caused by an external coolant leak. The Megapack was offline in service mode which disabled fault protections. This unlikely series of events allowed the fault to slip by and start a fire in an adjacent battery compartment.
Neoen also said that Tesla has taken “mitigating actions” after the companies conducted a root cause analysis and added that Tesla is implementing changes to its Megapack firmware and monitoring
The system should be switched back on for testing starting Sept. 29, in preparation for commercial operation of the utility-scale battery by the start of Australia’s summer season in December.
Neoen and Tesla must satisfy Australian regulators for their work together at a different location. The Australian Energy Regulator sued Neoen last week for claiming that a Tesla large battery, Hornsdale Power Reserve (which it also developed), did not deliver the expected backup power during the four month period 2019 in which it was paid.