A risk and safety study into the installation of batteries in commercial buildings

The introduction of battery storage in Australia is expected to lead to a transformational change in energy supply and security at the network and asset level. Yet despite the financial, environmental and societal benefits this technology has to offer, the number of commercial battery installations in Australia to date is quite small. It is likely the range of OHS&E risks posed by the battery chemistries, along with the investment risks in adopting a relatively untried technology, are key contributors to the current lack of uptake.

To help overcome these risks, The GPT Group, a BBP member, has partnered with ERM and CTP to conduct a risk and safety study into the installation and operation of stationary batteries, along with electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging infrastructure, in commercial buildings.

To facilitate the risk assessment process, a Battery Hazard Review Tool was developed. This tool has been designed to assist would-be battery project proponents in the initial decision-making process by raising awareness of the potential challenges that need to be taken into account. Such challenges are presented across the various stages of a battery project: from the human rights considerations associated with the mining and manufacture of batteries; to practical issues presented in the transportation and installation processes; the potential performance problems encountered in the operation and maintenance period; and finally, the environmental challenges in disposal of batteries at end-of-life.

Financial support for this study has been provided by the City of Sydney through its knowledge exchange grant scheme. This support enables the findings and recommendations of this study to be made publicly available to companies in Sydney and Australia, with the expectation this will assist them in their endeavours to implement battery storage solutions across their assets and accelerate the uptake of renewable energy.