Promoted as “green energy” and part of the “transition to a clean energy economy” Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) pose risks when sited in the wrong place. Much is unknown about the risks and how to respond when something goes wrong. In Massachusetts, the Cranberry Point 150 megawatt battery storage system will primarily store fossil fuel electricity. The battery project is for grid reliability and private profits — not to help the climate crisis.
This page has resources about BESS. These systems can be a large stand alone facility with 50 or more batteries clustered together or a few batteries placed among ground mounted solar arrays. They can be used with roof top solar. When BESS industrial projects are sited, municipalities are left on their own to determine suitable locations, to assess the risks, and to ensure that emergency responders are prepared.
Thermal runaway is a major safety concern with battery storage facilities and can happen when high temperatures are reached within the battery due to faulty cells or damage leading to fires or explosions. These fires are extremely difficult to contain and will continue even when water is used on them.
Large amounts of contaminated water from extinguishment efforts for battery fires will often leach into surrounding waterways, soils, and ecosystems.
Kelly Gallagher, a Massachusetts resident, shares information on the dangers of solar battery systems based on her own experiences.
The use of these systems has been incentivized throughout the state without properly notifying municipalities to allow them to have a say on battery storage projects.
Approximately 66% of the rare earth mineral cobalt used for these batteries is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo where workers toil under unsafe conditions.
Most Massachusetts municipalities have not amended their bylaws to allow battery storage systems, nor have they determined requirements for safe placement and use.
Read comments from a Norton MA resident, Joe Cogliano, who has studied the issue.