A Tesla Mega Package in Moss Landing, California
Andrew Evers | CNBC
Renewable energy giant Neoen plans to relight its Tesla Megapacks at the Great Victorian Battery in southeastern Australia this week after a fire in late July at the energy storage site.
Victoria’s safety regulator for electricity, gas and pipelines granted Neoen and Tesla permission to “test the reactivation of the large Victorian battery,” Neoen said in an emailed statement Monday.
The Great Victorian Battery is owned and operated by Neoen and is one of the largest energy storage systems in the world. Its goal is to prevent blackouts in the area and power homes using electricity from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.
Paris-based Neoen developed the site with partners like Tesla Energy and AusNet with a Cimic Group UGL build. Tesla did not disclose to its suppliers for the project or the types of battery cells it was using in the Megapacks, which are storage systems based on lithium-ion batteries.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The fire at the battery site in Geelong, Victoria, occurred on July 30. Two Tesla Megapacks caught fire at the 300 megawatt (450 megawatt hours) facility. No injuries were reported, but the fire triggered a toxic air alert in surrounding neighborhoods.
Around 150 firefighters from the National Fire Authority and local Victoria firefighters were called in to deal with the blaze, along with dozens of fire trucks and support vehicles and drones to monitor the temperatures of the two affected Tesla Megapacks. The flames did not spread to any of the other mega-packages of the approximately 210 that make up the system.
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On August 1, two days after the eruption, firefighters immediately stopped using water. The facility was declared under control on the afternoon of August 2.
The National Fire Authority, WorkSafe Victoria, Energy Safe Victoria and the Environmental Protection Authority asked Neoen and Tesla to suspend certain operations at Geelong so they could conduct parallel investigations.
Neoen expects the results of a full and independent investigation, conducted by the Energy Safety Response Group and Fisher Engineering, to be made public in November.
“The cause of the fire was identified as having coincided with short circuits in two particular locations, probably caused by a refrigerant leak external to the battery compartment,” the spokesperson said. “These occurred while the Megapack was offline in a service mode that removed the crash protections. Triggered by this unlikely sequence of events, the fault may have gone unnoticed and caused a fire in the adjacent battery compartment. “
Neoen also said that Tesla took “mitigation measures” after the companies conducted a root cause analysis, adding that Tesla was implementing changes to its Megapack firmware and monitoring.
The system is expected to be re-powered for testing from 29 September, with a view to full-scale commercial operation of the battery for the start of the Australian summer season in December.
Neoen and Tesla are under pressure to please Australian regulators by working together at a separate location. Last week, the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) sued Neoen, claiming that another large Tesla battery it had developed, the Hornsdale Power Reserve, had not provided backup power as expected. During a four-month period in 2019 for which she was paid.
LOOK: Inside Tesla’s Megapack System