Australian Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) Standard Released

A standard covering new battery installations in Australia was published by Standards Australia last week – and while a lot of work has been done since the draft, some aren’t happy with the final product.

“AS/NZS 5139:2019 – Electrical installations – Safety of battery systems for use with power conversion equipment” sets out general installation and safety requirements for battery energy storage systems (BESSs).

“Given there has never been an Australian standard for this new technology, developing this guidance has been a huge task and is a testament to the dedication of those involved,” said Standards Australia Head of Stakeholder Engagement, Daniel Chidgey.

According to the Clean Energy Council, AS/NZS 5139 will not become mandatory until the Wiring Rules, AS/NZS 3000, reference it or individual jurisdictions choose to amend their regulations. The Wiring Rules are expected to be published sometime in the first half of next year. Once mandatory, the standard will supersede the CEC’s current Battery Installation Guidelines.

While the new standard goes towards further improving the safety of solar battery systems installed in Australia, there are some parts of the document that have caused significant controversy – particularly in relation to the requirement for protection against the spread of fire.

In the original draft standard for home battery storage published in early 2017, pretty much all batteries would have been required to be installed in a separate enclosure. That is no longer the case.

However, the requirement that made the final cut will mean added costs for some battery installations – a cost many in the industry believe is not warranted, including the Clean Energy Council.

“We will continue to work with our Clean Energy Council Directorates, Members, our Installer Reference Group and Standards Australia to review and refine these areas,” states the CEC. “This includes engaging with key voting bodies to improve their understanding of the high level of safety inherent in professionally manufactured battery systems and the challenges that arise from these clauses as well as playing an active role in the revision of the current Battery Best Practice Guide.”