A Tesla Megapack battery at a California substation caught fire early yesterday, prompting a shelter-in-place order and multiple road closures around the Moss Landing area of Monterey Bay.
According to the Monterey County Weekly, The North Monterey County Fire Department received a call about a Tesla Megapack on fire at the Elkhorn, A.C. battery depot 182.5 MW Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) facility co-managed by Tesla and operational since April this year.
According to Fire Chief Joel Mendoza, the battery burned quickly and cleanly, a rarity in such fires. “The thing about these batteries is that sometimes they burn for days. In this particular case, it burned pretty quickly, about six hours,” Mendoza said. “We have no flame from it. We will continue to see smoke; it is white smoke, not black dirty smoke.”
At 10 p.m. local time yesterday, about 20 hours after the fire was reported, Monterey County said the fire started fully controlledbut said it can still emit smoke for several days.
According to CNBCOn-site firefighters burned out the battery, as is common with lithium-ion fires. Firefighters planned to stay on site overnight to ensure the system did not reignite.
Tesla has not responded to emails asking for more details. PG&E said it had no comment.
Lithium-ion fires are common in large battery systems
As the U.S. transitions to distributed, renewable energy generation, facilities like the Elkhorn battery storage facility are becoming increasingly important parts of the power grid, given their ability to store energy during periods of overproduction, to be released later when the renewables are underproducing.
Unfortunately, large lithium-ion battery plants like Elkhorn, made up of 256 Tesla Megapack batteries the size of shipping containers, have proven fire hazards — even at the same substation at Moss Landing.
Texas-based Vistra also installed battery storage at Moss Landing, which Monterey County Weekly describes as the largest in the world. Unfortunately, it was also ravaged by fires – two of them – and was only idle for months Service resumed in July.
Tesla has been involved in other Li-ion fires, with its Australian “Big Battery” bursting into flames last year and burning for four days. Lithium-ion batteries can also catch fire weeks after damageas was the case with a totaled Tesla vehicle.
They existed in South Korea, where battery energy storage systems (BESS) are widespread 23 BESS fires between 2017 and 2019 resulting in $32 million in losses. Investigators in Korea said a lack of electrocution protection, poor operating environment management and faulty installations are to blame, along with BESS integrations with other power management software, which they say “can result in conditions that could lead to fires.”
Despite known problems, lithium-ion remains the standard for rechargeable batteries. Researchers have discovered new cathode and anode materials that are safer than Li-Ion, however no major breakthroughs have recently been manufactured that could challenge its dominance – a potentially serious problem as giant BESSs are built in more locations. ®
https://www.theregister.com/2022/09/21/tesla_battery_megapack_fire/ Tesla battery at California substation ignites • The Register