Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) Requirements

Recognising that North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service (NYFRS) are not statutory consultees as a result of the Town & Planning Act 2010. NYFRS does as advise as best practice, safety measures and risk mitigation is developed in collaboration with NYFRS.

The safety measures and risk mitigation should cover the construction, operational and decommissioning phases of the project. During the construction phase the number of daily vehicle movements in the local area will significantly increase.  The Service will want to view the transport strategy to minimise this impact and prevent an increase in the number of potential road traffic incidents. Any development should not negatively impact on the Service’s ability to respond to an incident in the local area.

NYFRS recognises the use of batteries (including lithium-ion) as Energy Storage Systems (ESS) is a new and emerging practice in the global renewable energy sector. As with all new and emerging practices within UK industry the Service would like to work with the developers to better understand any risks that may be posed and develop strategies and procedures to mitigate these risks.

The developer must ensure the risk of fire is minimised by:

Procuring components and using construction techniques which comply with all relevant legislation.

The inclusion of Automatic Fire Detection systems in the development design.

Including automatic fire suppression systems in the development design. Various types of suppression systems are available, but the Service’s preferred system would be a water misting system as fires involving Lithium-ion batteries have the potential for thermal runaway.  Other systems would be less effective in preventing re-ignition.

Including redundancy in the design to provide multiple layers of protection.

Designing the development to contain and restrict the spread of fire using fire-resistant materials, and adequate separation between elements of the Battery Energy Storage System (BESS).

Developing an emergency response plan with NYFRS to minimise the impact of an incident during construction, operation and decommissioning of the facility.

Ensuring the BESS is located with due considerations of impact on communities, sites and infrastructure. Prevailing wind directions should be factored into the location of the BESS to minimise the impact of a fire involving lithium-ion batteries due to the toxic fumes produced.

The emergency response plan should include details of the hazards associated with lithium-ion batteries, isolation of electrical sources to enable fire-fighting activities, measures to extinguish or cool batteries involved in fire, management of toxic or flammable gases, minimise the environmental impact of an incident, containment of fire water run-off, handling and responsibility for disposal of damaged batteries, establishment of regular onsite training exercises.

The emergency response plan should be maintained and regularly reviewed by the occupier and any material changes notified to NYFRS.

Environmental impact should include the prevention of ground contamination, water course pollution, and the release of toxic gases.

The BESS facilities should be designed to provide:

  • Adequate separation between containers.
  • Provide adequate thermal barriers between switch gear and batteries,
  • Install adequate ventilation or an air conditioning system to control the temperature. Ventilation is important since batteries will continue to generate flammable gas if they are hot. Also, carbon monoxide will be generated until the batteries are completely cooled through to their core.
  • Install a very early warning fire detection system, such as aspirating smoke detection/air sampling.
  • Install Carbon Monoxide (CO) detection within the BESS containers.
  • Install sprinkler protection within BESS containers. The sprinkler system should be designed to adequately contain and extinguish a fire.
  • Ensure that sufficient water is available for manual firefighting. An external fire hydrant should be in close proximity of the BESS containers. − The water supply should be able to provide a minimum of 1,900 l/min for at least 120 minutes (2 hours). Further hydrants should be strategically located across the development. These should be tested and serviced at regular intervals by the operator.  If the site is remote from a pressure fed water supply, then an Emergency Water Supply (EWS) meeting the above standard should be incorporated into the design of the site e.g. an open water source and/or tank(s).  If above ground EWS tanks are installed, these should include facilities for the FRS to discharge (140/100mm RT outlet) and refill the tank.
  • The site design should include a safe access route for fire appliances to manoeuvre within the site (including turning circles). An alternative access point and approach route should be provided and maintained to enable appliances to approach from an up-wind direction.
  • As the majority of BESS are remotely monitored, consideration should include the fixing of an Information Box (IB) at the FRS access point. The purpose of the IB is to provide information for first responders e.g., Emergency Response Plan, to include water supplies for firefighting, drainage plans highlighting any Pollution Control Devices (PCDs) / Penstocks etc for the FRS.
  • NYFRS are aware that large scale BESS is a fairly new technology, and as such risks may or may not be captured in current guidance in pursuance of the Building Regulations (as amended) and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This will highlight challenges the FRS have when responding to Building Regulations consultations. For this reason, we strongly recommend applying the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 855 Standard for the Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems along with guidance from the NFCC Grid Scale Battery Energy Storage System Planning.

Further information can be found in the NFCC BESS Planning Guidance Document.