Tesla to Build Virtual Power Plant in South Australia

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South Australian Energy Crisis

Just a few months after Tesla built the world's biggest energy storage with lithium-ion batteries in South Australia, they are building a virtual power plant.

South Australia is having an energy crisis.  The South Australia region has had many blackouts, and lack the energy needed to run the infrastructure adequately.

South Australia, in partnership with Tesla, plan to build a virtual power plant to solve their energy crisis.

Tesla and the Virtual Power Plant

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South Australia wants to build a 250MW virtual power plant.

How will they do it?

They will build solar panels and battery storage solutions onto homes.  It will start with 1,100 public housing properties.  From there, property owners can volunteer to add the solar panels and storage batteries to their homes.  If the trial continues, 24,000 houses will be added to the "virtual power plant."  The homeowners who volunteer their homes to be part of the grid get a significant discount on their electricity bill.  They can expect about 30% off their bill.

What makes solar panels and battery storage a virtual power plant?

The software.

The virtual power plant's software will decide when to store energy in the 13.5 Wh Powerwall, and when to sell it back to the grid.

Tesla will install the panels and battery solutions, but after that, a third party will take over and issue bills.

Basically, the panels and battery storage will be a distributed solar power plant that is run by software.

Crescent Dunes Solar Power Plant is Changing the Industry, Here's How.

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F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems is proud to be providing fire protection for Crescent Dunes, NV solar power plant.  Crescent Dunes has a revolutionary technology that makes solar power more accessible to  households.

During peak time, they provide energy to 75,000 homes with no fossil fuel.

How do they use 0 fossil fuels?


This solar power plant uses concentrated solar power (CSP).  A system of mirrors concentrates the solar energy.  Crescent Dunes then uses salt to capture the energy and store it.  The salt storage allows the energy captured from the sun to be used 24 hours a day.

Cold salt is stored near a central receiver tower that is located in the center of 10,347 tracking heliostats.  The salt collects the heat, which can reach 1,000 degrees.  Once the salt collects the heat, it is pumped to a hot salt tank.  The hot salt tank acts like a battery, preserving the heat for 16 hours.


Molten salt is vastly better than batteries.  Salt is less expensive than batteries.  It lasts for 40+ years.  Lastly, salt doesn't degrade or need replaced.

The molten salt generates steam, which drives the turbine and creates electricity.  

Using molten salt in solar power plants is getting cheaper and cheaper.  In 2009 it cost almost $1 billion, and now the price to build a solar plant with this technology is half that.  SolarReserve is building another plant in Chile, and it will be less than 5 cents/kWh, whereas Crescent Dunes was 13.5 cents/kWh in 2009.



New Fire Protection Regulations for Energy Storage

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Laptops are exploding.  Phones are catching fire in pockets.  Lithium-ion batteries are more dangerous than anyone realized.  So, imagine the risk involved with an energy storage building filled with lithium-ion batteries.


The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is working on an update for NFPA 855 - the Standard for the Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems.  The draft is available for public comment and is expected to be completed in 2020.

Related:  FAQ - Battery Energy Storage Facilities + Their Fire Hazards

Nationally, the NFPA 855 update will create a stricter requirement for fire protection of energy storage.  It might also add a cap on size for energy storage in enclosed spaces.  The committee dedicated to this project will "document fire prevention, fire protection, design, construction, installation, commissioning, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning of stationary, mobile, and temporary energy storage systems," according to Energy Storage Systems Staff Liaison Brian J. O'Connor.  


The requirements will be more stringent than the current version.

Related:  3 Reasons to Outsource Your Fire Protection Specification Writing

Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) published the first safety standards in 2014, UL 9540.  UL 9540 is the backbone of NFPA and other organization's regulations for energy storage.

According to UtilityDive, "some stakeholders are already taking guidance from NFPA's developing standards.  While the standards are still in draft form, '2020 may be the landing spot for projects that are just starting development today,' said Davion Hill, Energy Storage Leader for the America's.

Subcontractor Challenges by Construction Dive

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Construction Dive wrote an in-depth article about the major challenges that subcontractors deal with on the construction site.  

Most construction projects use subcontractors for specialty work.  Why would a general contractor (GC) self-perform a specialty such as fire protection when they don't have the code knowledge, design experience, or skill set necessary?  They hire a subcontractor to complete that work.  However, when GC's hire a subcontractor, they are passing along a burden to the subcontractor.  

Related:  Case Study - Air Handling Unit Retrofit

Oftentimes, the subcontractor needs to take responsibility for the scheduling of the project and fronting the money needed to complete the project.  In some cases, subcontractors need to front millions of dollars for a project and coordinate the scheduling with other subcontractors on the project.

According to Construction Dive, subcontractors have 4 major challenges.

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1.  Cash Flow

GC's often rely on subcontractors to front the money for materials and payroll with a "pay when paid" policy.  This puts extra strain on subcontractors, especially those without adequate cash flow.

2.  Scheduling

Subcontractors are responsible for coordinating with the other groups on a job site.  Working with other subcontractors and coordinating the schedule can be challenging when each contractor's priority is getting their own portion of the job complete. 

3.  Communication

Communication between the owner, GC, and subcontractors is difficult.  Each group's main objective is the same.  Finish the project perfectly and on time.  However, outside factors like labor shortages and scheduling mishaps provide a need for crucial conversations.

Related:  Streamlining Processes for the General Contractor

4.  Labor Shortage

The labor shortage has been an issue for years now.  Contractors are starting to turn jobs down because they don't have a means to adequately staff the job.  It is better to not take a job then to take one you can't complete well.  The reputation tarnish of a job turned bad is not worth it.  

New Solar Power Plant Set to Go Online at Chernobyl

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In 2016, Chernobyl announced that it was going to be transformed into a solar power plant.  This site is not safe for life for tens of thousands of years after the Chernobyl disaster.  Turning it into a solar power plant park makes perfect sense.

The solar plant is set to be completed soon and will produce 1 MW of power, enough to supply power to a mid-sized village.  There are talks to quickly expand this plant to get it to 2 gigawatts of power, which would power 750,000 households.

Related:  Video Captures Haunting Footage of Abandoned Chernobyl Power Plant

The power will go to Ukraine, which is currently using a Russian-owned gas-fired power plant that is in short supply,

Concentrating solar power

Solar power is being used more and more often.  It's becoming cheaper and more accessible.  It doesn't pollute the environment and works well.  Solar power has helped bring energy to many places suffering from a shortage, such as South Australia.

Currently, Australia is the home to the largest solar power plant in the world.

Related:  Solar Power's Secret Fire Hazards

"The significance of solar thermal generation lies in its ability to provide energy virtually on demand through the use of thermal energy storage to store heat for running the power turbines," said Wasim Saman, University of South Australia Professor of Sustainable Energy Engineering.






OSHA Cites Power Plant when "Volcanic Molten Slag" Fatally Burned Five Employees

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In June of 2017, the Big Bend River Station Power Plant in Florida experienced something horrible.  It looked like molten lava flowing from a volcano.

Fire inspectors determined that five employees were fatally burned when a blockage inside a coal-fired furnace broke, allowing molten slag into the work area.  The slag can get to 1,000 degrees.

Five employees died from the incident, and a sixth was injured but survived the experience.



The Day of the Power Plant Accident

On June 29, 2017 at 4:30pm. emergency responders were called to Big Ben River Station in Apollo Beach, FL.  They were told that workers in unit 2 had suffered severe burns.  At the scene, two people were declared dead while four other workers were taken to Tampa General Hospital.  Of those employee, three of the four died after being taken to the hospital.

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In June, a spokesman for the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue said that injuries were "very severe."

Related:  VIDEO:  Video Captures Haunting Footage of Abandoned Chernobyl Power Plant

Among the injured, one was an employee of the power plant - Michael McCort, a senior plant operator who worked for the plant for 35 years.  He was pronounced dead at the scene.  The other five injured people were contractors.

OSHA's Determined Cause for the Accident

OSHA investigated and recently determined that the plant failed to follow energy control procedures while performing maintenance on equipment.  Tampa Electric was cited as was Gaffin Industrial Services, the company that the contractors worked for.  Gaffin was cited for failing to provide appropriate personal protective equipment to safeguard employees from burns.

Related:  CEO of Adamco Group Dies in Power Plant Construction Accident

The proposed penalties by OSHA total $160,972.

"This tragedy demonstrates what can happen when hazards are not properly controlled," said OSHA Atlanta Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer.  "Employers must develop and implement necessary procedures to prevent incidents such as this from occurring."

Fire Protection Products that Shouldn't Exist

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Sometimes you run across a product and think... that shouldn't exist.

This comes to mind.

However, the Flowbee is harmless.  A product that is fire protection related, but doesn't save lives is a whole other story.  

Below are three products that our F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems' employees have run across and instantly thought - that spells disaster.

1.  Fire sprinkler attached to a hose.

The SHS president, Daryl Bessa found this item at a home improvement store.  Fire sprinklers should not be attached to hoses.  The water pressure isn't adequate.  The design makes no sense.  Plus, it gives a false sense of security.

Related:  Strange Construction:  Three of the Weirdest Construction Stories You'll Find

2.  Jokester "Fire Alarm"

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"Pull in Case of Dark"

Let's say there was a fire, and this was on the wall (FYI - there is an attachment to put this on the wall).  It is smokey.  The lights have been cut.  You pull it, thinking that an alarm is going to go off.  Then, a light pops on.

This joke fire alarm could end up causing someone's death.

3.  Fire extinguisher/lighter/keychain

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Not only is this a keychain, it is also a lighter.  As an FYI, all you need to do is tap the handle of the extinguisher to light the lighter.  Do you keep your keys in your pocket?  I do.  It wouldn't take much more than a shift to start a fire in your pants.

What are some terrible products that you have seen on the market?  Let us know in the comments.