26% of grid batteries have defects, audit says

By Jack Quinn | 03/04/2024 06:55 AM EST

Clean Energy Associates, a research firm, examined errors in the manufacturing process that can lead to fires.

A firefighter sprays liquid on a burning garage containing a Tesla.

A firefighter battles a blaze ignited by an EV battery inside a garage in Orange County, California. Orange County Sheriff’s Department/National Transportation Safety Board via AP

This story was updated at 5:14 p.m. EST.

More than a quarter of grid battery systems may be at risk of fires because of defects in the manufacturing process, according to a six-year global audit that highlights a vulnerability for a technology at the center of renewable energy growth.

Clean Energy Associates, a Denver-based clean energy consultancy, found that 26 percent of audited battery systems had defects in components that identify and extinguish battery fires, and 18 percent had defective components that manage temperature and prevent fires. The report considered battery energy storage systems, or BESS, a technology that uses multiple batteries to store energy from a power plant or the grid.


The manufacturing errors in fire detection and prevention systems that CEA identified were various, including loose screws, incorrect wiring of smoke detectors, unresponsive fire abort buttons and “defective” circuit board materials in thermal regulation hardware.