Energy Storage Systems (ESS) are quickly gaining popularity in both commercial and residential applications, and the newness of the technology combined with some high-profile historical fires have led Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ’s) to be somewhat wary.
ESS are essentially a large battery system of single cells (usually Lithium Ion) connected together, often used to store energy from alternative sources (solar, wind, etc.), or to store utility power for use during peak demand times. The battery technology is constantly evolving, and the design and size of ESS can vary a great deal, making them challenging for an AHJ to evaluate.
The potential risks of an ESS fire can be considerable. Battery fires can be difficult to extinguish and can produce explosive and environmentally hazardous byproducts. These unique factors led to the development of a dedicated Standard to help the industry properly protect against the dynamic challenges posed by this new equipment and technology.
While not yet formally adopted in most jurisdictions, NFPA Standard 855, Standard for the Installation of Energy Storage Systems dictates requirements to designers and reviewers on many aspects of an ESS installation, including topics such as:
- Size limits
- Location and separation from adjacent structures
- Physical protection and security
- Fire Department access, water supply and suppression strategies
- Hazard Mitigation Analysis (HMA) of potential failure modes
- Explosion prevention and control
- Emergency preparedness and response planning
- Commissioning, Operation and Maintenance
An NFPA 855 review, completed by either the design team, a third-party, or the AHJ, encourages a methodical and thorough evaluation and can go a long way in ensuring a baseline level of safety for ESS installations. If you have questions regarding how to apply these requirements to your project, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.