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New NFPA energy storage system (ESS) technologies standard addresses the fire risks associated with new power sources

Blog Post created by cathylongley Employee on Sep 11, 2019

NFPA has released NFPA 855, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems to help engineers, manufacturers, code enforcers, first responders, and policy makers address potential challenges and obstacles related to energy storage system (ESS) installations.

 

The popularity of energy storage systems has been growing steadily for years. Businesses, consumers and government officials are increasingly recognizing the cost savings and efficiencies that come with capturing energy via solar and wind technologies; reserving resources for peak usage periods; and replenishing power at night when rates are typically lower. In fact, Global deployment of ESS is expected to expand thirteen times in size by 2024, with the greatest growth occurring in the United States and China, according to industry expert Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewable.

 

Certain ESS technologies, however, pack a lot of energy in a small envelope therefore increasing fire and life safety hazards such as stranded energy, the release of toxic gases, and fire intensity. These potential threats are driving the need for first responders and those that design, build, maintain, and inspect facilities to become more educated and proactive about ESS safety.

 

The development process for NFPA 855 began in 2016; and over the course of three years a wide range of stakeholders submitted more than 600 public inputs and 800 public comments. In addition to looking at where the technology is located, how it is separated from other components, and the suppression systems in place, NFPA 855 considers the ventilation, detection, signage, listings, and emergency operations associated with ESS.

 

Members of the building and design communities have closely followed the development of NFPA 855 because clients are more likely to consider ESS technology these days for new projects, renovations, and expansion efforts. Manufacturers, likewise, want to appeal to energy-savvy customers and ensure that they are producing the safest, most compliant products. And of course, first responders need to keep pace with innovation and learn about potential hazards including HAZMAT issues, thermal runaway concerns, battery explosion and re-ignition. In April, eight fire fighters were injured in Arizona when a fire caused an explosion as first responders attempted to check on a utility company ESS unit.

 

To learn more about ESS and potential safety risks, visit www.NFPA.org/ESS for:

 

  • free online access to NFPA 855;
  • relevant ESS research reports;
  • the world’s first online ESS training for the fire service;
  • a fact sheet for policy makers;
  • and assorted NFPA Journal content.

 

Current editions of NFPA 70 and NFPA 1 both contain extensive requirements for ESS too.

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