On the issues that matter in Malone NY (USA)

BESS Bombs : Part 1

The huge explosive toxic batteries the wind & solar companies are sneaking into your backyard

Calvin Luther Martin

August 28, 2019

This is the problem:

Lithium-Ion Batteries

(huge numbers of them, tightly packed into these innocent-looking white containers)

What are these things designed to do?

Basically, utility-scale Battery Energy Storage Systems smooth out the delivery of electricity from solar panels to the regional grid. Think of it as getting rid of electricity “hiccups” from industrial-scale photovoltaic (PV) panel installations. (Lithium-ion batteries are also used with home and commercial building PV panels, along with cell phones, laptops, and of course electric cars.) Older solar arrays used lead-acid batteries. Li-ion are now preferred, since they are far superior at storing electricity.

In an article published in April of this year, “Large-Scale Solar Plants Require Large-Scale Battery Systems,” energy expert Willem Post explains why BESS (Battery Energy Storage Systems) are essential for large PV solar arrays.  His key points are the following, all of which is quoted verbatim:

"Still having problems with the hiccups, Mrs. Hill?"

“Clouds are the main reason PV solar generation experiences intermittency (excluding the normal nighttime disappearance).”

“PV solar generation can rapidly decrease by 60% within seconds, due to a cloud passing over the solar panels causing a reduction in solar insolation.”

“Batteries have quick reaction times, i.e., can quickly charge and discharge electricity. Any rapid solar output decreases (downward spikes) due to clouds are quickly offset.”

“The upward and downward spikes of wind output are much slower, MW/min, instead of MW/sec. Gas turbines (and hydro plants) can easily adjust their outputs to offset any wind up/down spikes.”

“Till now, the solar downward spikes have been minor in most geographical areas, but as installed solar capacities increase for a given area, more and more of expensive, grid-scale, battery capacity would be needed to prevent frequently roiling the grid during variable cloudy weather.”

“NOTE: This has nothing to do with the daily ‘duck’ curves, which have become very evident in southern Germany and southern California, and present an additional disturbance to the grid to be managed by grid operators, mostly with existing gas turbine generators and hydro plants.”

“Large-scale solar plants requiring large-scale battery systems are bad news for the future economics of solar.  Significantly increased solar build-outs could not happen (they would disturb the grid too much) without also building out expensive grid-scale battery systems. That is the main reason southern Germany and southern California, each with large capacities of solar, have been installing battery systems during the past 5 years.”

Willem Post

BSME (BS in Mechanical Engineering) New Jersey Institute of Technology, MSME (MS in Mechanical Engineering) Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, MBA, University of Connecticut. P.E. (Professional Engineer) Connecticut. Consulting Engineer and Project Manager. Performed feasibility studies, wrote master plans, and evaluated designs for air pollution control systems, power plants, and integrated energy systems for campus-style building complexes. Currently specializing in energy efficiency in buildings.

BESS (Battery Energy Storage Systems) are not capable of delivering electricity longer than a brief period of time — measured in hours, not days. A longer term battery system would be astronomically expensive to build. Moreover, like your car battery, lithium-ion batteries lose their storage capacity over time and must be replaced. They must also be kept cool in summer and warm in winter, which is why BESS containers have large HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) systems attached to them. If the Li-ion batteries overheat, the results are catastrophic. 

All well and good, except for the elephant in the room . . .

The clean energy industry needs to come clean and call these Battery Energy Storage Systems for what they truly are:  

Temperamental, high-tech explosive devices which also happen to store electricity, briefly. Put slightly differently, they are a reckless, ego-driven experiment in industrial-scale thermodynamics using Firemen as Guinea Pigs

The “bomb squad” charged with responding to the crisis happens to be the local fire department.  I assure you, neither my township fire department nor yours is equipped to handle this. But “handle this” they must. 

No doubt the solar and wind industry — renewable energy companies tend to install both “wind” and “solar” — will object to my calling these things bombs.  Nothing surprising in this.  For many years, the same corporations flatly denied that wind turbines produce infrasound (from the blade passing the tower).  When they and their academic shills could no longer get away with this lie, they argued that the infrasound is harmless.  And so it goes.

I referred to these BESS as a reckless, ego-driven experiment in industrial-scale thermodynamics.  Yes, I had Elon Musk in mind.  Musk seems to be the principal force behind these BESS monsters, which are but an extension of his electric cars.  

It’s time blow the whistle on this man’s bizarre and dangerous fantasies.  When news media dare to draw attention to his electric cars exploding on impact or, for that matter, spontaneously combusting and then exploding, Elon gets pissed.  Consider the video below, evidently captured by a parking garage security camera in Shanghai, China, in April of this year. Then watch the 2 videos below that, of another Model S blowing up after rear-ending a disabled car on a Moscow freeway last month.  (Click here to read the story of the Moscow horror-show.)  Then watch the video below that of the 2018 Tesla Model X in Monroeville PA in Feb. and April of this year.

For more on Tesla cars going “kaboom!” read this Business Insider article (below, right),  “Life, Death, and Spontaneous Combustion:  Here’s Why the Debate about Tesla Fires Just Got More Fierce” (April 26, 2019).

Back to BESS bombs.  If you’re a municipal or other public officer reading this, understand that wind and solar energy are “lightly” regulated industries owing to the hysteria over “climate change” (a subject beyond the scope of this article) and the absurd renewable energy mandates being set up by politicians, state by state. 

The letter, to the left, is from a case I have been party to.  The request by the wind company attorneys for “lightened regulation” and “expedited treatment” is standard practice by these companies.  And, yes, the New York State Dept. of Public Service always rolls over for these  people.

The National Fire Protection Association to the rescue. Sort of.

Watch this video, made by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a global, non-profit, non-industry-affiliated, non-governmental organization much like Underwriter Laboratories, with whom it often collaborates.  (The video’s cover image, supplied by me, shows Australia’s mammoth Tesla Hornsdale Power Reserve battery system, servicing a 315 MW French-owned wind plant.)

NFPA is struggling to address the problem of BESS BOMBS, and God bless it for this, but the massive size, unpredictability, and fragility of these frankensteins is beyond anything they have witnessed before — and they’ve been in business since 1896.

A Box of Chemicals

Consider these red flags from the NFPA Journal. The icing on the cake is from the renewable energy giant, Invenergy. “At the end of the day . . . you’re buying a box of chemicals.”*  A box of chemicals with a bunch of trick candles on top.

* Kris Zadlow, Senior VP Invenergy, quoted by Julian Spector in Greentech Media 4/19/19). Click here.

Last November [2017] . . . a 1 MW lithium ion battery in Belgium caught fire, sending white smoke plumes high in the air, despite the system being fully equipped with fire suppression. Video from the event shows flames leaping from the box as the suppression system fails to control it.

In 2017, UL conducted extensive fire testing on a dreaded battery phenomenon called thermal runaway, where heat from a fire or damaged battery cell causes a chemical reaction inside the cell, further increasing the temperature and leading to more chemical reactions that cascade from cell to cell.

Another difficulty for firefighters is the tendency of lithium-ion batteries to reignite like trick birthday candles long after they are extinguished.

“Firefighters know a lot about a lot things, but ESS is not something we are experts in." . . . The task facing the fire service when it comes to ESS remains enormous. . . . Firefighters maintain that something has to give.

In this dramatic test (right) conducted in November 2015 at the Tesla test site by the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) for its parent organization, the NFPA, a tremendous amount of toxic hydrogen fluoride (HF) gas was ejected from the burning container:

The CDC's Nat. Inst. for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) recommends no more than 3 ppm (parts per million) of HF gas exposure averaged over 15 minutes

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) permits no more than 3 ppm (parts per million) of HF gas exposure averaged over 8 hours

Quick takeaways from the report, published Feb. 2016:

The NFPA’s Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) contracted with an engineering consulting firm, Exponent, to conduct the controlled ignition, using the Tesla Powerpack (100 kWh commercial BESS) shown above.  The image, right, shows a cluster of the same Powerpacks, as often seen at solar and wind farm installations. (These images and captions are taken from the report , “Hazard Assessment of Lithium Ion Battery Energy Storage Systems,” Feb. 2016, shown above.)

On p. 82, we find the

The release of HF [Hydrogen Fluoride gas] was detected in both fire tests. The maximum range for the portable detector utilized in testing was 100 ppm, which was exceeded during the external ignition test after 30 minutes of burner exposure to the Powerpack [see graph, below, p. 97]. During the internal ignition test, the maximum recorded HF was 26 ppm, as less battery cells were involved compared to the external ignition test (p. 82).

The release of HF during Li-ion fires is well known and HF was detected in both fire tests. The maximum range for the portable detector utilized in testing was 100 ppm, which was exceeded during the external ignition test after 30 minutes of burner exposure to the Powerpack. During the internal ignition test, the maximum recorded HF was 26 ppm, as less battery cells were involved compared to the external ignition test. Both of these measurements are greater than the recommended exposure levels over an 8 hour period as specified by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). It is recommended that first responders don typical firefighting self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) equipment when responding to an outdoor Li-ion battery fire. . . . Based on these test results, if installed indoors, additional ventilation of the Powerpack and/or for the room in which it is installed may be required. In addition, this test series only assessed select products of combustion produced during the Powerpack fires, namely HF. Additional testing accounting for other toxic products of combustion may warrant further investigation.
Blum & Long
"Hazard Assessment of Li-Ion BESS" (Feb 2016), p. 82.

Lithium Hexafluorophosphate

Here is a schematic diagram of a typical lithium-ion battery, as used in solar & wind BESS (Battery Energy Storage Systems).

It’s misleading to call these “Lithium-Ion” batteries. They should really be called “Lithium-Hexafluorophosphate” batteries — to draw attention to the HF gas and acid exposure when these batteries ignite or explode.

The electrolyte in lithium-ion batteries is typically lithium hexafluorophosphate. This is the source of the fluorine in the hydrogen fluoride gas (vapor or mist or smoke) and hydrofluoric acid ejected during thermal runaway or fire or explosion.


Here are three articles worth reading. The one on the left, written by staff for the Arthur D. Little consulting firm, gives a brief overview of various types of lithium-ion batteries.  Note, in particular, the section on electrolytes.  Although they may differ in the chemical composition of the cathode & anode & separator, virtually all these batteries use LiPF6 for the electrolyte.  

The other two articles are from Wikipedia.  Since Wikipedia articles are written by a variety of individuals, they tend to be somewhat disjointed. This is the case here, as well.

6 thoughts on “BESS Bombs, Part 1: The huge explosive toxic batteries the wind & solar companies are sneaking into your backyard”

  1. Best material and source reference; comprehensive; my tiny county faces installation of three of these ESS systems (BESS / ESS – all the same!); what do we do? Say the systems involve 100,000 batteries (about 100MW of storage in each BESS) – if we have that many, and there is a thermal runaway, how much time do we have to evacuate? How far should the zone for evacuation be in event of a thermal runaway? Foreign developers propose to cover 30,000 acres here with panels.

    Editor’s response:  Give me several days to reply, will you? I’m currently traveling and will be home in 2 or 3 days. 

  2. Hello, and thank you for this info.

    The Town of Falmouth Massachusetts is toying with the idea of letting Mayflower Wind run an 800 MW cable 9 miles through residential neighborhoods and building a substation.

    Question will they need BESS battery backup?

    They won’t tell the residents anything about the project until we agree to let them test drill in two of our most popular resort beaches.

    Please help Falmouth, Mass. on beautiful Cape Cod make the right decision.

    Send all info. to the Falmouth, Mass., Board of Selectmen. They are away over their heads on this preventable disaster.


    David Moriarty
    Falmouth life-long resident

    Editor’s response:  Yes, they will need Battery Energy Storage.  All solar projects require these.  The reasons are explained in the article: see the section, above, and read the commentary by the engineer, Willem Post. 

  3. Calvin,

    Do you have an address for where the Chateaugay BESS is scheduled to be deployed? I am especially curious because there is a sub-station across from where our family farm used to be. (Willis Rd./Cty Rte 33)

    Greg Cook

    Editor’s response: Yep, that’s the spot. Ground zero for the BESS Bomb. Next to the Willis Rd. substation. Whoever lives there now will have a front-row seat. Besides, everyone downwind will be guinea pigs for hydrofluoric acid inhalation and burns, should the BESS catch fire and go into thermal runaway.

  4. Carmel McCormack

    ‘Battery Fantasy’ narrated by Mark Mathis from the Clear Energy Alliance published 26th August 2019

    See video also on

    ‘Battery Fantasy’ on the Clear Energy Alliance website

    Homepage of Clear Energy Alliance

    See also

    Mark P. Mills, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, (a Think Tank) explained the battery problem extremely well in his report, ‘The New Energy Economy: An Exercise in Magical Thinking’. (Published 26th March 2019)


    Mark P. Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a McCormick School of Engineering Faculty Fellow at Northwestern University, and author of Work in the Age of Robots, published by Encounter Books.


    More by Mark P. Wills

    (Published in The Wall Street Journal 6th August 2019)

  5. Jim Wiegand - Wildlife Biologist

    Source: https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/battery-room-fire-at-kahuku-wind-energy-storage-farm#gs.ztakzo

    “Firefighters did not enter the building until seven hours after the flames started, because of questions regarding the toxicity of the 12,000 batteries.

    “The Honolulu Fire Department said a fire at the same building in April 2011 burned itself out. There was another fire in May of this year, and both fires were attributed to ECI capacitors in inverters from Dynapower. Xtreme is suing Dynapower, according to Courthouse News Service.”

    Speaking of batteries, I would love to put all these wind energy scammers on a sizzling hot seat by taking a large number of massive turbine projects off the grid, and, with their battery backup, see exactly how many lights and appliances can be run in a small city or town. I’m not interested in this industry’s lies of 30,000-100,000 homes “powered,” but real world numbers without any help from the grid, charging the batteries or electricity feeding into turbine lines that are actually being turned into Production Tax Credits.

    Then the world would truly understand that they have been taken by a multi-trillion dollar confidence scheme.

  6. Carmel McCormack

    The amounts of Hydrogen Flouride HF released from burning Li-ion batteries if extrapolated from the research study for a 100MW Lithium Ion Battery Energy Storage System is 2t-20t

    And 0.2-2t/100MWh of Phosphoryl Fluoride (POF3) would be released at 0% State of Charge (SOC).

    ‘Toxic Flouride gas emissions from Lithium Ion Battery Fires’
    Fredrik Larsson, Petra Andersson, Bengt-Erik Mellander
    Published 30 August 2017


    ‘No amount of batteries are going to save us, warns director Jeff Gibbs (lifelong environmentalist and co-producer of Fahrenheit 9/11).’


    ‘….deploying 1,500 MW of (Lithium Ion Battery Energy Storage Systems) storage capacity throughout the state by 2025,….’

    In a built up City???!!!!

    In New York City???!!!!
    And when the scientific knowledge about the hazardous toxic release of chemicals from lithium ion batteries has been well researched and documented?

    How crazy is that?

    Several more 9/11’s waiting to happen?!

    What’s more is that if the batteries are relied upon for grid frequency balancing and to prevent electricity power outages then in the event of a fire/explosion at these battery energy storage systems then there is likely to be a major electricity power outage too!


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