Battery Fire Safety

Solar battery fires are nasty

We have serious concerns about the installation of a large number of batteries (six 20ft containers) to store energy produced by the site.

There have already been cases where this type of battery storage has caught fire, including one fire that resulted in a major incident in Liverpool that is currently subject to an enquiry by the HSE. (read more)

John Constable, Director of the Renewable Energy Foundation (, told us that expect Lithium batteries such as this will be a major safety issue going forward.

There are a couple of issues with these types of battery fires because they contain Lithium.

  1. Lithium fires generate their own oxygen fuelling the fire. This makes them very hard to put out and, typically, they require huge amounts of water to put out. A US example quoted between 20,000 and 30,000 gallons of water to extinguish a single Tesla car battery and the Ringmer site has six 20ft containers of similar batteries. The Liverpool fire took 59 hours to extinguish.

  2. Lithium fires also produce clouds of poisonous gases that are a danger to firefighters and also to neighbouring residents even a significant distance away from the site of the fire.

As a result, we have a number of concerns:

  1. It will be difficult for the Fire Service to access the fire - Norlington Lane is a very narrow winding lane. We feel it is unlikely that the lane has the capacity to allow the large number of appliances required to fight a major incident. We are also concerned that the water main does not have the capacity to deliver the volumes that would be required and there is no large water course nearby that can be used.
  2. The poisonous gas produced by the fire will quickly spread to unprepared residents in Ringmer village or Broyle Side. The proposed site is too close to a large number of residential properties. As can be seen on the map, almost all of Ringmer and Broyle Side is within 1,000 metres of the battery site and many of them much closer than that. Given the prevailing SW wind, any gas cloud would quickly spread to to these areas

We think batteries should be excluded from the site because there is nowhere they can be located that is a safe distance from existing housing.

We have asked the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service for their opinion on this matter.