UII UPDATE 260 | JUNE 2024
Intelligence Update

Ignore Li-ion fire risks at your peril

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries have grown in popularity as backup energy storage in data centers due to significant improvements in their performance, lifespan and energy density. They also take up less space in a data center and need replacing less often than long-established lead-acid units.

However, Li-ion batteries are vulnerable to thermal runaways that, if left unchecked, can result in powerful fires (see Anatomy of a thermal runaway). The rapid adoption of this technology has added a new type of risk that the data center sector may not be fully accounted for — the data and experience are still limited. Even if data center operators assess the risks to be manageable, the use of Li-ion batteries may still attract increased costs due to more robust fire prevention, and more onerous permitting and insurance premiums.

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