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As Energy Storage Safety Goes Viral, Comprehensive Risk Assessment Should be Emphasized, Says UL

published: 2021-11-29 10:59

To achieve net-zero emissions, businesses worldwide have strived for energy transformation, thereby stimulating development of the energy storage market. In recent years, Taiwan has been actively developing energy storage technologies with emphasis on domestic demand and global markets. Global safety science institution UL maintains that Taiwanese enterprises should comply with international safety standards and pay attention to risk assessment to reinforce their business for stable long-term development.      

Disasters associated with large energy storage systems have occurred globally, including 30 accidents in South Korea to date as well as incidents across the US, Europe, Australia and even Taiwan. Jonathan Chen, vice president of UL and general manager of UL Taiwan, said that the rapid development of lithium batteries is accompanied with safety incidents, making safety certification a priority for products to be accepted by the global community.

According to Green Energy and Environment Research Laboratories of the Industrial Technology Research Institute, storage incidents are primarily attributed to inadequate safety mechanisms and careless design of installation and operation environments. UL then suggests that businesses adopt international safety standards in the early design and manufacturing stages and abide by such standards during installation and maintenance later on, thereby ensuring energy storage safety.

As advanced devices, energy storage systems have been widely used, resulting in rapid amendments to and updates of technical and safety regulation and great burden on manufacturers. To save money and time on research and development, businesses are recommended to seek assistance from third-party institutions with comprehensive technical and safety standards.   

UL, for example, has established international safety standards for energy storage systems, including UL 9540 and UL 1973, has actively attended international standards committees such as the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and has required knowledge and testing competences. In Taiwan, several firms with UL certificates have bid for domestic projects and entered overseas markets. 

Risk assessment is another issue that should be addressed. Chen continued to say that whether a storage system is certified may affect the amount of insurance premium and indirectly influence companies’ fundraising results. According to the latest survey conducted by insurance company Marsh, the fire protection mechanism of storage systems has become a critical indicator during assessment. A storage system certified by international safety standards not only demonstrates the company’s asset safety but safeguards the two parties involved.    

Chen recommends businesses to seek assistance from international independent institutions recognized by insurance and finance companies (e.g., safety certification, reliability testing and risk assessment) to achieve solid investment in energy storage systems, long-term planning and a leading position.   

 (Credit of first image: Flickr/Gerry Machen CC BY-ND 2.0)

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