For HeatSpring instructor Justine Sanchez, the energy storage system explosion at Arizona Public Service in 2019 was an eye opener.
As a result of the explosion, nine first responders were hospitalized. “For me, this was a real wake-up call about the danger of lithium ion batteries. We need to get cognizant of codes and standards,” she says.
The Folding of SolarPro and Home Power Magazines Leaves Information Gap
People need to learn about the dangers of lithium ion batteries and understand how to install them properly, she says. They also need to learn about other types of energy storage. With the folding of both SolarPro and Home Power magazines, such information isn’t as available as it once was.
Sanchez, along with HeatSpring instructor Ryan Mayfield, is on a mission to fill the information gap created when the two magazines ceased publishing. Both Sanchez and Mayfield wrote for the publications before they closed up shop.
With so much activity in the industry right now–much of it in response to climate change–it’s critical to educate solar and storage companies and users, they say.
Power Outages Spur Need for Education
For example, during the much-publisized Texas power outages in February, many Texans thought their solar systems would operate when the grid went down. People didn’t understand that they needed energy storage and controls to ensure their solar would continue to operate, says Sanchez.
Together, Sanchez and Mayfield are offering a number of ways for people to learn critical information about solar and storage.
“In late 2019 and early 2020, I decided to act,” says Mayfield, founder and CEO of Mayfield Renewables. “I’m trying to work to educate the industry, trying to get technical information to manufacturers and distributors.” To help meet that goal, he hired Sanchez.
Helping Manufacturers and Offering Classes
As part of the education effort, Mayfield and Sanchez are helping manufacturers produce technical information about their products.They’re working with inverter and storage manufacturers to help them create written and video content. And they’re offering courses through HeatSpring.
Meanwhile, they’re continuing Mayfield Renewables’ design work, which often opens their eyes to the need to educate contractors, manufacturers and others.
An Important Time to Provide Education About Energy Storage
“For energy storage, it’s such a crucial time. It’s key for designers and installers to gain knowledge on fire codes and electrical codes and why they’re changing,” says Sanchez.
In addition to helping manufacturers write their technical documents and teaching for HeatSpring, Sanchez and Mayfield offer in-person classes. At the NABCEP 2021 Continuing Education Conference Aug. 9-12, Mayfield is teaching a day-long course on the National Electrical Code and Sanchez is offering a 90-minute class on electrical and fire codes for energy storage systems.
“Ask Us Anything” Program
In addition, Mayfield has organized an online “Ask Mayfield Anything” series, which is a conversation with various guests, a moderator and host, and often includes Sanchez. During the events, Mayfield answers live questions.
“We try not to call it a webinar, it’s more of an open discussion,” says Mayfield.
In the future, a video series focused solely on codes and standards will be released.
Climate Change Creates Urgency About Energy Storage
In the meantime, the need for information about solar and storage expands with the focus on climate change.
“We need solar plus storage to be happening,” says Sanchez. “We are pinned between two issues. We want to stem climate change and want solar and storage out there as much as possible, but in that rush to save the world, we don’t want to injure anyone or burn down people’s homes.”