UK battery plant gets go ahead despite explosion and fire concerns

Will it be safe to operate?
Loukia Papadopoulos
Representational image of an EV battery plant.jpg
Representational image of an EV battery plant.


Energy firm Firma Vogt has announced it intends to go ahead with ambitious plans for a large battery storage plant in Leeds, UK despite concerns from nearby residents about potential explosions and fires.

This is according to a report by the BBC published on Saturday.

Push back

Last April, the firm dropped proposals to build on a four-acre site after much push back from locals and the fire service over potential explosion risks.

The developer responded by saying the firm had listened to feedback and "improved proposals" and would construct a smaller facility than initially planned and would position it further south, away from homes.This move would also remove the need for noise barriers.

Andrew Jones, company director, said: "These improvements have been designed to considerably reduce the potential impact on local residents, and address comments given by local stakeholders.

"Westfield BESS [battery energy storage system] can play a key role in securing energy security in a way which will directly benefit local people."

The site is still waiting for approval from the Leeds City Council but should it become operational it could provide power for up to 14,000 homes a year..

Last month, reports of e-bike lithium-ion batteries exploding in New York surfaced, causing much concern for all who use the devices and igniting feelings of distrust toward the equipment.

“We’ve been sounding the alarm for months,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said at the time. “We need real action, not only on the state level, but on the federal level.”

Predicting fires

In the meantime, GM invested in a software capable of predicting EV battery fires.

“The company has developed sophisticated software that uses data streams from EV battery management systems to help identify anomalies in cell performance to ensure proper vehicle health management and provide early detection of battery hazards including thermal runaway propagation events,” said the press release about the acquisition at the time.

Finally, in 2022, an energy storage facility owned by Vistra Energy in Moss Landing, California that houses the largest lithium-ion battery in the world, claimed that its battery kept on melting, putting the plant out of commission and denying many the energy they needed.

There’s no doubt that battery fires are an issue despite best attempts at controlling and mitigating them. The question becomes will this latest Leeds plant be able to thwart any dangerous incidents or will it be overwhelmed by explosions and fires out of its control?