Calls to reject battery park amid fears of fire and toxic fumes

Fears over fires and toxic fumes have led community councillors to call for the rejection of battery park plans.

Lerwick Community Council (LCC) has formally objected to Zenobe’s proposed battery energy storage system (BESS) in Gremista.

The BESS is intended to play a key role in Shetland’s new electricity network, providing a “standby service” in the event of an outage on the interconnector, which is being built to link the isles with the mainland National Grid.

Zenobe lodged is plans with the Scottish government’s energy consents unit last month and attended a special public meeting to discuss the project shortly after.

But at last night’s (Monday) LCC meeting, members were presented with the formal response to the application.

It noted the advantages of the BESS in maintaining electricity supplies and said members were generally welcoming of the development.

However, the response went on to say there remained a “real underlying concern of fire within the installation”.

While Zenobe has claimed a three-metre separation between compartments should be sufficient to prevent fires from jumping between units, the LCC objection felt that was not enough.

It said: “The concern here would be what impact could any high winds, potentially effectively removing the three metre separation distance, have on spreading any fire across the installation?

“Further, it was stated that in the event of any fire breaking out the fire would simply be allowed to ‘burn-out’, which would take an estimated five to nine hours.

“During this period toxic fumes would be generated and depending on the prevailing wind direction be blown across the adjacent residential housing at Staneyhill.”

The response also noted Zenobe’s decision to develop the BESS near to the Gremista grid supply point, which is currently being built,  but said this was not a sufficient explanation for building near to a residential area.

Instead, it questioned the GSP’s location and said it did not justify the construction of the BESS so close to people’s homes.

Zenobe’s application states the development would feature up to 240 battery units, two switch rooms, and six CCTV cameras, as well as an auxiliary transformer and emergency diesel generator.

It would be used in the event of a trip on the interconnector, providing back-up power for 30-60mins until the diesel fuelled Lerwick power station kicks back into action.

Norwegian energy giant Statkraft had also been considering a BESS for the site – but it pulled out in June, leaving Zenobe as the only applicant.

A final decision will be made by Scottish ministers.


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