Installing Energy Storage Systems with Trevor Tremblay
Trevor Tremblay, Technical Advisor at Electrical Safety Authority, shares advice on safely installing energy storage systems
More and more businesses, industries and people are going ‘grid independent.’ This means Licensed Electrical Contractors (LECs) will have to be up to date on the latest energy storage system requirements — especially battery storage.
“It is becoming very popular. We have some manufacturers leading the way in these technologies,” Tremblay shared.
With more than $548 billion being invested in battery storage globally by 2050, according to the Canada Future Energy Report, it’s more important than ever to know the ins and outs of energy storage systems. In this episode, Josie Erzetic talks with Trevor about how to safely and correctly install these in-demand systems.
Study the installation requirements
Installing energy storage systems can be a complex process. With varying types of batteries and installation requirements, LECs should study up on approved systems before entering into a job.
Most importantly, they should advise clients not to take on the endeavor themselves.
“I’ve seen too many installations where people try to do it themselves,” Tremblay explained. The problem is that they may not be aware of technology and Ontario Electrical Safety Code changes every few years. “People spend quite a bit of money trying to get it to work. But at the end of the day, when they go to use it, it’s not safe.”
There’s a variety of different factors to look out for during installation. Tremblay recommends keeping the following components in mind:
- Approval markings
- Manufacturer installation requirements
- Disconnecting means requirements
- Marking requirements
- Ventilation requirements
The size of your energy storage system may also warrant a plan review requirement. This means, depending on the project, Engineers and LECs may have to send their drawings to be reviewed for Ontario Electrical Safety Code compliance.
“If your energy storage exceeds 10 kilowatts and in parallel with the supply authority, the drawings are required to be submitted to our plan review group. This can all be done electronically now,” Tremblay said.
It’s also important to note that the local utility needs to be involved in the installation, especially when running in parallel with the grid. The utility company wants to know about any interactive systems due to potential dangers from back feeding the grid.
“If the power goes out and people have these systems installed in their homes, they can start playing around with the settings and inadvertently send it back to the grid,” said Tremblay. “When the power goes out and a utility looks to reconnect, it can put some of their workers in serious jeopardy.”
Furthermore, with each installation, LECs should remember that a notification of work is required. Once installed, the ESA will inspect the energy storage system for any possible defects.
“We’re seeing a lot of off-grid systems being installed without the benefit of inspection. This is just a reminder that, even though there is no utility, they still have to be inspected and you need to file a notification of work to do that sort of thing,” he said.
Stay up to date on Ontario Electrical Safety Code changes
The technology and Codes surrounding energy storage systems are continuing to grow and change over time.
In May 2022, an update to the Ontario Electrical Safety Code will impact how LECs can install energy storage systems. According to Tremblay, the requirements are much more prescriptive.
“There’s almost a whole new subsection, whereas before there were only a couple of rules,” Tremblay explained. “One of the larger changes is that you can’t install energy storage systems in any living spaces in dwellings or residential occupancies.”
Tremblay says LECs will see updates to the Ontario Electrical Safety Code and bulletins as energy storage system technologies continue to innovate and expand, in particular within residences.
“In my lifetime, it’s unbelievable what we are doing now compared to before,” he said. “From solar to electric vehicles. It’s an interesting time to be working in this industry to continue to keep Ontarians safe. I look forward to the future.”
Listen to the full episode to hear Tremblay’s additional tips and recommendations for safely and securely installing energy storage systems.
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