Open letter to The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Society, 1 Victoria Street, London SW1H OET A signed paper copy has been sent
Proposal to build a 350MW Solar Power Station with 700MWh Battery Energy Storage System at Cleve Hill, Graveney, Kent
Dear Secretary of State
I am the Senior Partner in the largest GP practice in Faversham, Kent . We serve a population of 18,500 patients, and a large part of the population of the village of Graveney is on our list. I am writing on behalf of the practice to urge you to decide against the above proposal on the grounds of the dangers to health, and indeed life, associated with the proposed Battery Energy Storage System (BESS).
When I first joined the practice, 29 years ago, one of my patients was a veteran of the first world war, who was still suffering the effects of chlorine gas: I think this proposal needs to be considered as having the potential to inflict a gas attack even worse than that which he experienced.
You will be aware from the report of the NSIP Examination that the proposed Lithium-ion BESS will be the largest in the world by a factor of five. Moreover, the installation will be within one mile of the village of Graveney and its primary school, and less than two miles from the historic market town of Faversham with its population of 19,000.
It is well established that Li-ion batteries are prone to runaway fires which can lead to explosions. Indeed, such fires at much smaller installations in the USA has led regulators to question the use of such batteries and pause further developments, especially close to habitation. The larger the BESS, the greater is the risk of a runaway fire. In the event of a fire Li-ion batteries emit a cloud of highly toxic Hydrogen Fluoride which can spread at dangerously high levels over distances of 1-2 miles, enveloping the town of Faversham and nearby coastal communities. These effects were modelled in detail in evidence to the Cleve Hill Examination.
Toxicity of Hydrogen Fluoride
Hydrogen fluoride goes easily and quickly through the skin and into the tissues in the body. There it damages the cells and causes them to not work properly. The gas, even at low levels, can irritate the eyes, nose, and respiratory tract. Breathing in hydrogen fluoride at high levels can cause death from an irregular heartbeat or from fluid build-up in the lungs. At lower levels breathing hydrogen fluoride can damage lung tissue and cause swelling and fluid accumulation in the lungs (pulmonary oedema). Eye exposure to hydrogen fluoride may cause prolonged or permanent visual defects, blindness, or total destruction of the eye. People who do survive after being severely injured by breathing in hydrogen fluoride may suffer lingering chronic lung disease.
I am extremely concerned that the potential hazards associated with such a large BESS pose an unacceptable risk of death or long term illness to the population which is served by Newton Place Medical Practice.
I, therefore, urge you to decide against this proposal.
Dr Alastair Gould
Newton Place Surgery
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I have been following the development of Cleve Hill for some time and have also been concerned about such a large BESS using Lithium Ion technology. There have indeed been numerous examples of such installations suffering from thermal runaway in both South Korea and the USA. These fires usually become out of control and as Dr Gould reports, emit dangerous levels of toxic fumes, both corrosive lithium oxide and Hydrofluoric acid.
Please note, there is a proven alternative to this technology and this allows the benefits of the project to come to fruition whilst at the same time obviating the risk of fire and toxic fumes. The alternative is the Vanadium Redox Flow Battery.
Additionally these batteries, whilst not having quite the same energy density as Lithium Ion, can store massive amounts of energy whilst not suffering from degradation. This means they last for 25-30 years or more, making them the most cost effective in the long run.
I am not in the business of either of these technologies but I am a retired technologist who has a keen interest in the Environment and renewable energy and energy storage in particular.