This piece was originally published in the July 2018 issue of electroindustry.
Don Iverson, Midwest Field Representative, NEMA
With energy storage becoming more popular throughout the United States, building departments are struggling with approving installations of such systems. These same folks are experiencing a bit of a learning curve with understanding this new technology and how these systems fit into the life of a building electrical system.
In response, electrical and fire safety personnel are working with standards such as UL 9540 / 9540A and NFPA 855. These documents put designers and regulators at ease with energy storage installations. Building and planning departments, as well as state governments throughout the country, are working toward removing barriers that hinder the approval and permitting of energy storage systems.
In Colorado, for example, the state senate is working on HB18-1270, which would allow investment and development of investor-owned utilities to acquire energy storage systems to a maximum systems size of 15 MW.
Elsewhere, the New York City Fire Department and the NYC Department of Buildings have been working toward removing barriers related to energy storage. Their concerns focus on thermal runaway in the event of a battery fire cascading out of control, exposing occupants to harmful gases, or the unreleased energy in the storage system creating a hazard for first responders.
Education and standards development will ease energy storage into the built environment. This will make the new technology a more viable option when designing building electrical systems.