Queensland Bouldercombe battery fire ignited on grid side, not within Megapack, analysis finds

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In an update on the Bouldercombe battery’s commissioning program, Genex Power has revealed the fault initially occurred on the AC side, saying the fault then propagated to the battery modules within the Megapack. The company nonetheless expects the battery to complete commissioning and commence operations by mid-November.

“The failure has been isolated to the power electronics interface with the AC bus bar in the individual Megapack unit itself and not the broader installation of Megapack units,” the company said in the update.

The Bouldercombe battery, which sits roughly 20 kilometres south of Rockhampton on Queensland’s midcoast, was in the middle of the commissioning process when the fire broke out. The $60 million project is Genex’s first foray into big batteries.

Genex has been working with Tesla Motors Australia to investigate the incident, with Tesla undertaking preliminary analysis via remote diagnostics since the time of the event. On October 13, the affected Megapack was transported to a testing facility in Melbourne to complete further analysis via physical inspection. The full root cause analysis (RCA) into the fire is expected to be made public by Tesla “when finalised,” but in the meantime Genex said of the fire:

“On 26 September 2023, one of the 40 Megapack units caught fire at 7.32pm AEST toward the end of a discharge cycle. No-one was on site at the time of the incident. On advice from Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and established protocols the low intensity fire was allowed to burn out with no water required to be used on the fire itself.”

“On 28 September 2023, Genex re-energised the site and subsequently completed a charge of 5 MW for approximately 1 hour across 36 Megapack units on the evening of 28 September 2023.”

Tesla will replace two identified power electronics units and is inspecting the remainder of the Bouldercombe units. Tesla has also advised the Megapack unit adjacent to the impacted Megapack suffered minor thermal damage to its electrical insulation. Tesla will provide two Megapack units to replace those impacted. The units have already been shipped and are expected to arrive and complete installation and final testing in early December 2023.

To keep the commissioning process on track, Genex said its final tests and operations will recommence with 38 of the 40 Megapack units. The battery is expected to go into operation by mid-November 2023, Genex says.

The fire analysis and Megapack replacement is being undertaken at Tesla’s full cost.

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