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Unbound Prometheus or Devil?

2021-09-08

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Last month, a fire broke out in a giant Tesla battery pack in Victoria and last for 4 days, and finally be put out by over 150 local firefighters. This battery pack, with 300MW/450MWh capacity, is viewed as key to the Victorian government’s 50% renewable energy target by 2030. Elon Musk twittered “Prometheus Unbound” following the news of the fire, referring to the god of fire. Although the cause of the fire is still under investigation, we can get some clues in the whole picture.

Firstly, the human factors. There are strict safety regulations during the operation and maintenance of the battery. While it is possible that some improper processing caused the fire during the operation and maintenance.

If it is not a human fault, the battery might probably be a suspect. The NCA/NMC batteries of Tesla Megapack are mainly supplied by LG Chem, Panasonic, and Samsung, etc.. Previously, LG Chem recalled the Resu 10H residential energy storage systems in the United States and Australia because of the risk of battery fire. In fact, Musk also said in the earnings call that Tesla may increasingly prefer to use lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries for stationary energy storage products. Actually, early this year, Tesla was trying to use LFP for its Megapack energy storage. What is the difference between these two batteries then?

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As we can see in the figure, the NMC/NCA battery has a higher energy density, but from the perspective of safety and life span, the performance is not satisfactory. The LFP has a longer life span and is currently the safest battery cell material on the market. For electric vehicles, they need NMC/NCA with larger energy density providing more power in a short time. But for residential customers or large-scale battery stations, safety must be the first priority. This is why AlphaESS ONLY uses LFP, and thus, in the past nine years, AlphaESS has got NO safety issues out of more than 60000 energy storage systems running around the world.

In the conclusion, all above is the conjecture of the causes of this incident occurs in Australia. If you have any different ideas and opinions, please leave a message below or contact us.