Controversial battery storage standard to go back out for public comment

Standards Australia will release a second draft of its controversial onsite battery storage standards for public comment, following extensive consultation.

Among the changes is the removal of requirements regarding building regulations, such as proposed rules around ventilation for battery installations.

This week Standards Australia chief executive Dr Bronwyn Evans held a discussion with senior industry and government leaders about the introduction of the standards.

A pathway was agreed on that will see all parties work together to fast-track the development and adoption of appropriate product safety standards.

At the start of the meeting, Dr Evans asked, “Are standards needed at all?”

“I was pleased that there is unquestionable support for standards, developed by the right people, in the right way,” she said.

“There was unanimous agreement in the room of the need to both encourage the uptake of new technology and manage community safety expectations. The clear path forward set today will see us working hard and working together to get the relevant standards in place as soon as we can.”

Participants in the discussion included Tesla, Australian Building Codes Board, Australian Industry Group, Clean Energy Council, Electrical Trades Union, Origin, AGL, Energy Networks Australia, Housing Industry Association and government bodies.

The agreed framework includes the expected adoption of product standards developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission and UL, to complement the installation standard already in development by the Australian standards committee.

Specifically, these include IEC 62619:2017 Secondary cells and batteries containing alkaline or other non-acid electrolytes – Safety requirements for secondary lithium cells and batteries, for use in industrial applications; and UL 1973 Standard for Batteries for Use in Light Electric Rail (LER) Applications and Stationary Applications.

The technical working group for the onsite storage standard will also be resolving the comments received on the first draft of DR AS/NZS 5139 in redeveloping draft version 2.0.

Dr Evans said Standards Australia was committed to fast-tracking these projects over the next three months.

Instead of the provisions in the first draft around building requirements, these will be removed, except for product placement elements.

Government and industry will instead look to develop appropriate building requirements within building codes that address installation practices for batteries that meet the international product standards.

These provisions will also be released for public comment once they have been developed.

Another resource was also highlighted at the meeting – an industry best practice guide for the safe installation of battery systems that is being developed by the Electrical Safety Office of the Queensland Government.

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