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.

Cooling Tower Roundup: Everything to Know about Fire Sprinklers + Video

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Cooling towers have an environment that makes fire sprinklers vulnerable to decay and failure.  However, cooling towers have fire hazards throughout the building.  PVC fill, FRP walls, fan stacks, fan decks, fan blades, louvers, partitions, and catch basins catch on fire regularly.

You can see a cooling tower fire in the video below.  There are very real hazards in these facility types.

Below you will find our most popular cooling tower articles to better understand the environment, risks, and how to keep your fire sprinklers working properly.

Cooling Towers:  The Perfect Atmosphere for Failure

Learn the causes of pipe deterioration in cooling towers.

Video:  Results of Microbial Induced Corrosion (MIC)

See a YouTube video of what MIC can do to a cooling tower.

The Ultimate Guide to Gas-fired Power Plants

Learn the fire hazards in each section of a gas-fired power plant, including detailed hazards in cooling towers (+ a hazard diagram!).

What are you biggest questions about cooling towers?  Comment below and let us know.  It may become our next blog post.

Happy Holidays from F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems

F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems would like to wish you a happy holiday.

A World of Good Wishes. 

One of the real joys this holiday season is the opportunity to say thank you and wish you the very best for the new year

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Tesla Joins Australia's Power Grid: World's Biggest Battery

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The power grid in South Australia now has a giant Tesla battery.

As a reminder, on March 9, Elon Musk tweeted that he would deliver 100MWh of energy storage to South Australia in 100 days.  He made good on that promise, and finished the job in 63 days.

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"This is history in the making," said South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill.  The battery system is sitting next to wind turbines at the Horndale Power Reserve.  "South Australia is now leading the world in dispatchable renewable energy, delivered to homes and businesses 24/7."

The battery can store enough energy to supply energy to 30,000 homes for more than an hour.  The main reason South Australia was seeking out this technology is that they need stability for the South Australia electrical grid.

The Tesla batteries were successful in testing, and were used a day earlier than planned.  Temperatures were over 100 degrees, so the Tesla energy storage was tapped to make up the energy needed for air conditioning.

South Australia's taxpayers will be paying $50 million over 10 years to subsidize the cost to operate.

Related articles about sustainable energy.



Avoid the Fire Sprinkler Freeze: 3 Reasons to Drain Drum Drips in Power Plants

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At power plants, dry pipe fire sprinkler systems can be found in outdoor or unheated areas of the power plant like transfer stations, crusher buildings, and conveyors.  To protect the fire sprinkler from freezing in cold months, plants should complete cold weather maintenance and inspections.

Dry-pipe fire sprinklers need to be pitched just right to avoid sitting water during tests.  If water sits in the pipe, the results are micro-biologically influenced corrosion (MIC), pipe scale, or ice.  During the cold months, ice forming in pipes is a real problem.

The water that sits in the dry-pipe will freeze and expand by 10%.  Once it warms up, the expanded ice melts and reveals micro-cracks.  The cracks will change the air pressure, causing the valve to trip.  The pipes will fill with water and the small crack will begin to leak and enlarge until it is gushing.

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How do you avoid frozen fire sprinkler pipes?

1.  Schedule due diligence inspections

This inspection should be scheduled before it gets too cold.  The inspector will ensure that the pipe is pitched perfectly.  If it isn't, they will re-pitch the pipe and install drum drips. 

2.  Drain drum drips weekly

Drum drips will need to be drained weekly to ensure  sitting water is removed.  Even a perfectly pitched dry-pipe fire sprinkler can get some sitting water.  Draining drum drips is essential.

3.  Complete trip tests on time

Dry-pipe fire sprinklers need to be tested regularly.  Because of the environment that these systems are in, the obstruction mentioned above - MIC, scaling, and ice - can be a real issue.  Dry-pipe fire sprinklers should have a trip test conducted every 3 years.

Keep power plants protected year round by maintaining your dry-pipe fire sprinklers.  Freezing fire sprinkler pipes can cause thousands of dollars in damage, but can be easily avoidable.  When winter is approaching, schedule due diligence inspections, drain drum drips weekly, and test your dry-pipe fire sprinklers on time.







A Swedish Power Plant is Burning H&M Clothing for Fuel

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A Swedish power plant is working to eliminate fossil fuels by 2020.  To get to this goal, they have started burning recycled wood and garbage - including rejected clothing from H&M warehouses.

Copy of Concentrating solar power

"For us, it's burnable material.  Our goal is to use only renewable and recycled fuels," said Jens Neren, head of fuel supplies at Malarenergi AB.

This plant has burned 15 tons of rejected clothing from H&M warehouses in 2017.  However, the plant burns about 400,000 tons of trash to make fuel in a year and supplies 150,000 households with energy.

The Head of Communications for H&M, Johanna Dahl said, "It is our legal obligation to make sure that clothes that contain mold or do not comply with our strict restrictions on chemicals are destroyed.  H&M does not burn [for fuel] any clothes that are safe to use."

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Renewable energy is constantly replenished and will never run out.  Power plants that utilize these resources over fossil fuels are choosing not to use sources like coal, oil, or natural gas that cannot replenish.

You Might Also Like These Articles About Renewable Energy

5 Odd Artifacts Found at Construction Sites

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It's always fun to look at the strange things that are dug up at construction sites.  Things could be buried for centuries to be found at a parking garage construction site.  Let's take a look at the strangest things found recently.

1.  During Chinese Road construction, a 700-year-old mummy was found. 

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In 2011, a mummified woman was found during road construction.  She was incredibly well-preserved, dressed in silk, her hair and eyebrows were still intact.  Amazingly, she was 700 years old.

2.  A medieval hospital was found in Madrid at an Apple store. 

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In the 1850s, the bubonic plague was going strong in Europe.  Many hospitals got overwhelmed and had to be abandoned.  In 2013, the rubble of a bubonic hospital was found where an Apple store was being constructed.  It was determined that the hospital dated back to the 15th century.

3.  Pablo Escobar's Secret Safe at Home Construction

The government seized Pablo Escobar's Florida house twenty-nine years ago.  A new owner bought the house and began construction.  During the excavation process, they found Escobar's safe.  The government didn't release the contents though.

4.  Triceratops Fossil Found at Construction Site


During construction of a new fire and police station, in July of 2017, a triceratops skeleton was found.  The construction crew called the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and on August 28, 2017, the curator confirmed that it was a triceratops. 

5.  1700's Cemetery



A man from New Orleans was digging a backyard pool when he discovered a buried cemetery.  The cemetery dated back to 1700 with 13 caskets with human remains.  Nearby, in 1984, 36 corpses were found while excavating an apartment complex.


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Solar Power Beats Out Other Renewables in New Energy

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A study recently came out that solar power is now the fastest growing source of new energy worldwide.  

The shift was brought on by lower prices and government policies.  Now, we are seeing that 2/3s of new power added to the worldwide power grid is renewable energy.  In the United States, over half of the 24,000 megawatts of electricity generation capacity added to the U.S. grid in 2016 came from renewable sources.  Solar is growing faster than other renewables because it is getting cheaper and cheaper to produce.  

Renewable prices are becoming comparable to fossil fuels.  Wind and solar are setting record low prices.  "Renewables may well become even cheaper than fossil fuel alternatives [over the next five years]," said Paolo Frankl, head of the renewable energy division at the IEA.  Coal was always the favorite energy fuel, but it is dirty.  Natural gas now responsible for 7,700 MW of energy, and coal is down 17%.

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Dr. Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA said, "What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar photovoltaics.  We expect that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology up to 2022."

On a recently released jobs report, solar workers were one of the top jobs for outlook.  The U.S. Department of Energy said that workers devoted to solar development, installation, and maintenance were 43% of the workforce for electric power generation.  From 2015 to 2016, solar was the highest growing job in power with 300,192 employees in 2015 and 373,807 employees in 2016.  In 2017, it's expected to grow another 7%.

If you're looking for a career change, solar might be the route to go.  On the construction side, power generation was the most difficult to hire for with insufficient qualifications and lack of experience.

According to Paris-based International Energy Agency, "About half a million solar panels were installed every day around the world last year."

Perhaps it's time to train for a new career.

You Might Like These Articles About Solar Power



California Residents Search for Renewable Energy Alternatives

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Glendale, CA -- In Glendale, CA, there is currently a proposal to upgrade a natural gas power plant.  However, residents are fighting against it.  They are claiming that potential environmental impacts are being understated and a harder look needs to be taken toward sustainable alternatives.

A special meeting was held in Glendale with the water and power commission.  Consultants explained the potential impact from noise, hazardous materials, greenhouse gases, and other pollutants from re-powering the Grayson Power Plant.

A proposal to renovate the plant was brought up in 2015.  The plant serves 88,000 electric customers.  The proposal would make the plant more sustainable.

The proposal is to remove, rebuild, and replace seven of eight electrical generation units.  It's expected that is not fixed now, they will fail within the next ten years.

Residents are not too keen on this plan.

They say that the project is too expensive - $500 million, and is not environmentally friendly enough.

Dan Brotman, a Glendale Community College economics professor formed the Glendale Environmental Coalition.  He packed the room with supporters of renewable-energy alternatives.

"We are not a bunch of starry eyed environmentalists.  We're practical people, and we want them to syudy a real serious set of alternatives for the city.  We know it's going to have to be a complicated mix of [renewable and fossil-fuel solutions," Brotman said in a phone interview with L.A. Times.

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8 Dead, 100 Injured in Boiler Blast at Power Plant

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New Delhi -- A boiler exploded at the NTPC Power Plant in Uttar Pradesh and killed eight people and injured 100 people.

The number of dead and injured may rise.  Many of the injured received severe burns.

The injured are being treated at the NTPC campus hospital and another local hospital.  The worst burn injuries were taken to Lucknow hospitals.

The NTPC Power Plant had 5 units with 210 MW each.  The power plant started generating power in 1988.  A 6th unit was commissioned with 500 MW to be completed this year.  It is believed that the pipe burst at the 6th unit.

Get the latest news on the power plant fire here.

How do you protect boilers in power plants?  Find out here.


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Gas-fired Power Plants - Where are the hazards hidden?

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Excerpt from Fire Hazards and Fire Protection - Gas Fired Power Plants

Gas-fired power plants are growing in popularity. Canada has already begun to phase out coal-fired power plants in favor of gas-fired power plants. Gas is less expensive and a cleaner form of fuel than coal. However, with a surge in gas-fired power plants being built, a closer look needs to be taken on the fire hazards within these plants.

In 2010, the Kleen Energy Systems Power Station, a combined cycle gas and oil power plant, had an explosion in the turbine building when natural gas was being purged from the gas line. Six people were killed.

In 2014, the Didcot B Power Station, a gas-fired plant, had a major cooling tower fire. The fire spread from one to three cooling towers. Luckily, no one was injured. However, it does serve as an example of what can happen in gas-fired power plants and the need for proper fire protection.

Fire hazards are abundant in gas-fired power plants. With natural gas, lube oil, and combustible materials throughout these plants, a small spark can grow into an inferno.

Gas-fired power is on its way to becoming one of the biggest producers of power in North America. With less than 20% of the global coal-fired capacity residing in North America, gas is bringing up the rear and establishing itself as a contender for king of energy production. But what are the fire hazards in these plants?

Continue reading this excerpt from our article Fire Hazards + Fire Protection for Gas-fired Power Plants or watch the video below.

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