Tesla Megapack fire in Australia blamed on undetected coolant leak

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Safety regulators on Tuesday approved the so-called Victoria Big Battery project, run by French renewables firm Neon SA, to resume testing near Melbourne.

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MELBOURNE – The fire that damaged two Tesla Inc. battery units at a massive energy storage project in Australia in July was caused by a coolant leak that was not detected during start-up tests, a state watchdog reported on Tuesday. said in.

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Safety regulators on Tuesday approved the so-called Victoria Big Battery project, run by French renewables firm Neon SA, to resume testing at the site near Melbourne.

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However, safety regulator Energy Safe Victoria said it would now determine whether there were any violations of the state’s electricity safety regulations and “if so, whether enforcement action is necessary.”

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Neon said it is working with Tesla to ensure the 450 megawatt-hour energy storage project is ready for the Australian summer, which begins in December. Testing will start again from Wednesday.

“We have taken the time to understand the cause of the incident and we have taken action to ensure that this does not happen again,” said Neon Australia Managing Director Louis de Sambusi.

The fire was first detected on 30 July when smoke was seen coming out of a megapack and then bursting into flames, which took several hours to subside. It took fire officials three days to declare the site under control.

Investigations by several Victoria state agencies found that the fire at the MegaPack, a shipping container-sized battery unit, was triggered by short circuits in two locations due to a coolant leak outside the battery compartment.

The short circuit occurred when the Megapack was turned off after initial testing, with fault protection removed. This means the fault was not detected and the fire spread to the adjacent battery compartment.

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Neon said action has been taken to prevent this from happening again at the Victoria site and in Tesla’s megapack’s global fleet.

“Through these actions, Tesla has improved the detection and associated fault protection against these types of rare events,” Neon said.

Victoria Big Battery is one of the largest batteries in the world and is seen as essential to prevent blackouts in a market that is increasingly dependent on solar and wind power, especially during heatwaves.

Tesla has not commented on the fire.

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Energy Safe Victoria said it needs to provide Tesla with the final results of its investigation into why the second megapack was damaged by the fire and what it will do to prevent it from happening again.

($1 = 1.3778 Australian Dollar)


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