PRBA Proposal on Transporting Containerized Lithium Batteries For Energy Storage Adopted by UN Sub-Committee

The Rechargeable Battery Association has announced that the United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods has adopted a PRBA working paper on the transport of containerized lithium battery energy storage systems.

PRBA has long advocated for new dangerous goods regulations to govern the transport of containerized lithium batteries because the existing requirements are outdated and fail to account for the growth and unique transport requirements associated with the containers. Currently, lithium battery manufacturers often need to secure pre-shipment approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation or other competent authorities to ship the containerized batteries by road, rail, and sea.

At its meeting in Geneva in early July, the Sub-Committee adopted an approach recommended by PRBA, eliminating the need for regulatory approval and establishing new regulatory requirements under the UN Model Regulations that are consistent with industry practices.

“We are gratified the changes we advocated were agreed to at the UN Sub-Committee meeting,” said PRBA executive director George Kerchner. “The Sub-Committee action will simplify the transportation of containerized lithium batteries without sacrificing safety,” Kerchner added.

“PRBA and its members are proud that lithium batteries are at the forefront of the clean energy revolution. Energy storage relying on lithium batteries is increasingly recognized as a critical component of a sustainable energy future,” he said.

Battery storage systems can capture power from the sun and wind when it’s available and release the electricity on demand, eliminating the biggest drawback to renewable energy. Lithium ion batteries have been deployed in a variety of energy storage systems, ranging from smaller units in residences with rooftop photovoltaic systems to much larger batteries used by utilities to provide ancillary services for the electric grid. As the price of lithium ion batteries needed for energy storage plummets, experts predict enormous market growth for battery storage amid the integration of renewables into the electricity  grid. A study by Navigant Research has predicted utility-scale solar battery storage will grow 15 times by 2025.

The Sub-Committee also unanimously approved a PRBA and RECHARGE working paper that will clarify the package marking and labeling requirements for small batteries initially offered for air transport and subsequently transported by ground and sea.