Neoen (ISIN: FR0011675362, Ticker: NEOEN), one of the world’s leading and fastest-growing producers of exclusively renewable energy, has confirmed re-energisation testing of the Victorian Big Battery will recommence on Wednesday 29th September, in preparation for operations this Australian summer.
The incident, in which two of the project’s 212 Tesla Megapacks were lost, took place during the initial testing and commissioning phase on Friday 30th July. Following the emergency response, a number of detailed investigations were undertaken in parallel by the Country Fire Authority, WorkSafe Victoria, Energy Safe Victoria, and the Environment Protection Authority. Tesla and Neoen responded comprehensively to the authorities’ requirements for information and shared findings of a detailed root cause investigation.
The cause of the fire was identified as coinciding short circuits in two particular locations likely initiated by a coolant leak external to the battery compartment. These occurred while the Megapack was off-line in a service mode that removed fault protections. Enabled by this unlikely sequence of events the fault was able to go undetected and initiate a fire in the adjacent battery compartment. Mitigating actions have been put in place at the facility and across Tesla’s global Megapack fleet, including a combination of firmware enhancements, as well as monitoring and process improvements. Through these actions, Tesla has improved the detectability and associated fault protection against these types of rare events.
The regulatory authorities have provided the project with approval to resume energisation following the outcomes of the investigations.
Learnings from the event are currently being compiled by two independent expert groups, Energy Safety Response Group & Fisher Engineering. An Independent Report will be shared publicly by November which will provide information and insights including lessons for fire management and emergency response to support the industry and relevant authorities in the deployment of battery storage technology.
Neoen and Tesla are continuing to work towards delivering the project in time for the Australian summer.
The Victorian Big Battery will unlock up to 250 MW of additional peak capacity on the existing Victoria to New South Wales Interconnector (VNI) over the next decade, playing a key role in the transition of the electricity sector towards lower emissions.
Louis de Sambucy, Neoen Australia’s Managing Director said: “Safety is our first priority. We have taken the time to understand the cause of the incident and we have implemented actions to ensure it will not happen again. We would like to thank the Country Fire Association and the regulatory authorities for their thorough investigations. We are now actively working with all stakeholders to complete commissioning and testing of the project and we look forward to sharing the lessons learnt with the industry in coming weeks.”