Campaigners against battery installations have stressed the prospect of overwhelming the fire department.
A solar farm proposed by energy company Sunnica on the Cambridgeshire-Suffolk border, said to be among the largest in Britain, is met with strong opposition both for its proposed size, equivalent to 900 football pitches, and for the consequences potential for battery failure. . Edmund Fordham of the Say No To Sunnica group says an explosion at the site could be several times larger than the explosion at the Port of Beirut last year. “If you really had a major accident here, it would be well beyond the ability of any local fire and rescue service to control it,” he says.
A spokesperson for the Sunnica Project said he had consulted with local fire departments, adding, “Safety has been an important consideration in the design and preparation of Sunnica’s proposals and management plans.”
New generation batteries
Almost by definition, any method of storing large amounts of energy involves risk. But the solution to battery concerns may be new chemistry. Barker’s Faradion develops sodium-ion batteries that he says are less volatile, as well as more widely available cells. “It’s much more robust from a security standpoint,” he says.
Last week, the Chinese battery-making heavyweight CATL gave the technology a huge boost by announcing it would start producing sodium-ion batteries for electric cars within two years.
Last week’s Lords Report revealed Britain has the opportunity to be a world leader in next-generation battery manufacturing over the next decade, and called for greater government support for the region. Keeping that promise could not only support Boris Johnson’s upgrade program, but safer batteries can also provide the assurance that could be crucial for a net zero future.