Wärtsilä has secured accreditation for the fire safety of its GridSolv Quantum energy storage system. The storage system has passed testing and is now compliant with the US National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 69 Standard. The standard sets safety requirements for explosion prevention systems.  

“NFPA 69 is a standard that requires that you can demonstrate that you never get to a mixture of gases in your system that could cause an explosion,” Darrell Furlong, director of energy storage product management and hardware engineering at Wärtsilä told Power Technology. “So we have gas sensors in the system and we have fans that have been tested to NFPA requirements.

“If you want to protect from being accidentally hurt from a unit exploding then have a design that just doesn’t explode, that’s what NSPA 69 is trying to do,” he went on. 

Wärtsilä performed 25 tests between December 2022 and May 2023, replicating peak release rate and gas composition conditions that would be emitted by a thermal runaway event. The tests demonstrated that Wärtsilä will “never get to an explosion event in [its] product”, Furlong said. 

NFPA standards seek to reduce fires and secure the safety of first responders attending the fire. The standards “make sure that first responders stay safe and that they don’t do anything that could actually make the situation worse. You don’t want to be spraying water on lithium-ion fires; it just actually makes it worse,” Furlong added.  

As energy storage capacity grows, heat generation can present a fire risk. The US energy storage industry plans to install 100GW of storage capacity by 2030, in line with renewables targets.  

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The European Commission also plans to increase its storage capacity as a means of introducing flexibility to variable power sources. 

“I think this standard is good for the industry going forward,” said Furlong. “I’m expecting all energy storage companies to implement this standard at some point down the road. What’s important for the industry is that the products are safe to use, safe to install, safe to manage and that any concerns that people have about the safety of energy storage go away.”  

According to the International Energy Agency, energy storage is expected to expand by 56% before 2026, reaching 270GW.