Fire Protection in ESS Facilities

ESS Facilities capture and store energy from wind turbine, solar array, and hydro power sources in battery modules for use at an appropriate point in the future. Each ESS facility will comprise either a temporary or permanent structure to house the batteries which are typically Lithium Ion batteries. It is true to say that with new technology comes new opportunities and also new challenges and Li-Ion batteries do require a specific approach when it comes to protection of assets from fires which can occur with this type of battery.

The failure stages of a Li-Ion battery are :-

Stage 1 : Abuse
Thermal, Electrical or Mechanical abuse

Stage 2 : Off -Gas Generation
Gasses are released from the cell as the cell is heated as a by product of the events of Stage 1

Stage 3 : Smoke Generation
The gasses being released are now burning due to thermal runaway in the cell and catastrophic failure is imminent

Stage 4 : Fire Generation
Propagation of fire due to sparks and other ignition sources created by the cell failure

The prevention of Stage 1 (Abuse) should be designed into the build of an ESS eg. Thermal separation of battery modules from each other, protection of the cells from mechanical abuse, charge/discharge monitoring etc, however failure of equipment can still cause overcharging/over discharging of cells and dendrite formation within a cell can still cause a short circuit which will lead to the cell overheating and progressing to Stage 2 (Off Gassing).


Mr Howard Tomlin Product Manager Gaseous Systems, Lithium Ion FIre Protection, Nitrogen Generation , Fire Protection Technologies, Australia

Actively involved in special hazard fire protection since 1994 , and am a committe member and major contributor to the new AS4587 (and BS8458, BS8489 when I lived in the UK). I have a keen interest in progressing the fire industries ability to address the ever changing landscape of special hazards with effective fire protection solutions. I have been involved with development of new fire protection products and writing fire testing protocols then real fire testing the products to prove their effectiveness. I’m a family man enjoying a new life in Melbourne having moved here 3 years ago from London.