A fire that began at a Victorian big battery near Geelong on Friday has continued to burn for three days.
The blaze began around 10.30am on Friday, during testing at the battery in Moorabool, which was built by the French renewable energy company Neoen using Tesla battery packs.
About 150 firefighters from the Country Fire Authority and Fire Rescue Victoria were called on to respond to the situation.
The fire began in a 13-tonne lithium battery bank, which is about 15 metres long and encased in a shipping container, and subsequently spread to a second nearby pack.
The fire has subsided significantly but is not yet under control, according to the CFA on Monday morning.
Crews remained on scene overnight on Sunday to conduct thermal checks, monitoring the temperature decline of the two battery packs.
In a statement, CFA acting assistant chief fire officer Ian Beswicke said: “We’ve had lots of specialists on site … all that expertise helps us come up with some really good decisions about what we need to do to respond to these types of fires.”
“The plan is that we keep it cool on the outside and protect the exposures so it doesn’t cause any issues for any of the other components in the power station.”
Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority deployed two mobile air quality monitors to the battery fire and found on Saturday there had been “good air quality in the local community”.
On Sunday evening, an advice warning was issued for Bell Post Hill, Lovely Banks, and Moorabool, downgraded from an initial “watch and act” toxic smoke warning issued on Friday. Residents were advised there was “no threat to the community” but to continue to monitor conditions.
Louis de Sambucy, Neoen Australia’s managing director, said in a statement: “There were no injuries, the site was disconnected from the grid and there has been no impact to electricity supply.”
“Investigation preparations are underway and physical inspections will commence once the CFA have completed their procedures.”
Most lithium-ion batteries contain an electrolyte that is flammable when the battery is heated or damaged, which has resulted in fires at waste and recycling sites where they have been improperly disposed.
With a power capacity of 300 megawatts and a storage capacity of 450 megawatt-hours, the Victorian big battery at Moorabool is slated to become the largest in the southern hemisphere. The battery is part of a state government push to transition to renewable energy, and is planned to be ready by the 2021–2022 summer.
Neoen had only registered the battery project with the energy market operator on 28 July.
– With Australia Associated Press