Redback Technologies receive $4m grant from QLD

The Queensland government has given Redback Technologies a $4m grant to continue its work on developing a smart energy monitoring platform. The grant has been awarded through the Advance Queensland Platform Technology Program. 

Redback Technologies

Redback Technologies - Redback Smart Hybrid Inverter
Redback Technologies – Redback Smart Hybrid Inverter (source: redbacktech.com)

The Brisbane based Redback Technologies advertise themselves as creators of “Advanced hybrid technology with battery manages and stores solar energy, which you can save for your own personal use or sell back to grid.”

The Fifth Estate is reporting that this could result in Redback hiring up to 109 new staff to help the development and manufacture of their ‘smart energy monitoring platform’ – a system which is able to deliver real-time power generation/usage information via apps or the internet and is also able to automate smart (IOT) appliances. It also manages solar and battery energy use depending on the weather, usage patterns, current tariffs the customer has, and so on. Obviously the project is not complete yet so we don’t have a full feature set but it’s really exciting to see something like this developed so close to home, and being helped by the government. 

Innovation Minister Kate Jones told a press conference:

“Redback Technologies is at the forefront of moves to make battery storage technology more affordable, with a system that will enable a reduction in energy costs for consumers and help to pump renewable energy into the grid.

“The $4 million Advance Queensland Platform Technology Program grant will lead to the development of a smart energy monitoring platform that will give customers the ability to instantly analyse and control energy consumption.” Ms. Jones continued.

Philip Livingston, the managing director of Redback, said that there will be macro as well as end user benefits as the business grows – pointing out that the more data they’re able to get on usage patterns, we will see a commensurate increase in efficiency of their systems: 

“The support of the Queensland government will enable Redback and our partners to create a platform ecosystem, using big data to drive better outcomes for energy users and energy businesses,” he said.

“This technology will benefit industries beyond energy.”

Tesla Battery in SA Earns $1m in a few days.

The Tesla Battery in SA has earned an estimated $1m in the last few days due to warm temperatures and a very volatile electricity market. Since being announced in July of last year and completed in November, the battery has already withstood a test last December when the Loy Yang Power Station (sector A3) tripped and went offline – the battery was able to send 100MW to the grid in 140ms, despite being almost 1000km away. It’s now proving its value again during a hot Australian summer where it was paid up to $1000/MWh to charge itself last week, according to Electrek and RenewEconomy.

Tesla Battery in SA Earnings

Tesla Battery in SA Earns $1m in a few days
Tesla Battery in SA Earns $1m in a few days (source: reneweconomy.com.au)

The 100MW/129MWh Tesla Powerpack system installed in South Australia (which is known to the grid as the Hornsdale Power Reserve) was built by Tesla and is operated by Neoen -who have access to about 30MW/90MWh of the battery’s capacity to trade on the wholesale market. The South Australian government have access to the remaining electricity to help stabilise the grid. 

As we saw with its 140ms response time, the Powerpack is able to offer energy to the wholesale market a lot faster than its rivals – allowing Neoen to profit from the large swings in energy prices in Australia (which become even more intense when we have a heatwave or there’s an outage at any of our major plants). 

Elektrek are reporting that during certain peak periods, Neoen were able to sell energy at up to $14,000 per MWh, according to forecasts from RenewEconomy on the 23rd. 

A couple of weeks ago Tesla was chosen to build another Powerpack battery in Bulgana, and the company fronted by the charismatic Elon Musk is also working in conjunction with Neoen to bid for even larger battery projects – so hopefully the good results the battery in SA has been delivering will bode well for the future. 

 

Redflow in Thailand – Produce First Battery Stacks

Redflow in Thailand – we reported last year on their decision to move manufacturing of the Redflow zinc-bromine flow batteries to Thailand. Today they have emailed out a press release advising that they’ve successfully produced the first battery electrode stacks from the new factory southeast of Bangkok at the Hemaraj Chonburi Industrial Estate. 

Redflow in Thailand

Redflow in Thailand - Battery Production Milestone Reached
Redflow in Thailand – Battery Production Milestone Reached (source: redflow.com)

Redflow announced in December last year that they had succesfully started manufacturing core compenents for the zinc-bromine flow batteries at its new production facility – with the successful production of electrode inserts made of HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) plastic at their Thai factory.

Today’s press release noted that they’ve now successfully produced battery electrode stacks – a key component of the ZBM2 zinc-bromine flow battery. The stacks involve using electrodes that charge and discharge the battery by “plating” and “deplating” zinc on a membrane. This process means the membrane is able to sustain 10 kilowatt-hours of energy storage capacity throughout the battery’s operating life, which  is estimated at 10 years of 36,500 kWh of delivered energy (whichever comes first). Keep in mind that battery performance and lifetime won’t be sensitive to cycle depth as there are no limitations due to the nature of zinc-bromine flow batteries. They’ll deliver 100% depth of discharge every day for their warranted time and this doesn’t cause any damage to the battery. 

According to the Redflow Limited Managing Director and CEO Richard Aird, the process has been smooth sailing so far: 

“The manufacturing team is very happy with the consistent quality and acceptable yield metrics of the stack line,” he said in the press release. 

As per Redflow’s manufacturing timeline, they are well on track to be able to produce complete batteries by June of this year. 

It’s been a brave move for Simon Hackett’s Redflow, who have had a challenging 2017 and made some tough operating decisions for the new year. We’ll keep you updated as to how production goes for their batteries. 

Australia’s largest solar plant built in NSW in 2018

Australia’s largest solar plant will be built in NSW early next year. It will be a 250MW DC solar photovoltaic power plant with energy storage and installed in NSW’s Sunraysia region. The plant will be built by Decmil on behalf of Chinese company Maoneng Australia, who already have a solar farm in the ACT and are looking to create a second. The Sunraysia solar farm was being discussed back in June (click to view our article about it) and has changed from 200MW to 250MW but will still be located on 1000 hectares of private freehold land 17km south of Balranald centre – approximately 140km south-east of Mildura.

Australia’s largest solar plant

Australia's largest solar plant - Sunraysia Solar Farm
Australia’s largest solar plant – Sunraysia Solar Farm artist’s rendition (source: sunraysiasolarfarm.com.au)

According to Maoneng vice-president Qiao Han, Maoeng Australia and Decmil signed an MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding) on Tuesday. They plan to construct the plant as soon as April or May in 2018 – with the construction contract valued at approximately $275 million. 

The plant is expected to generate at least 530,000 megawatt hours of electricity each year, and will power houses in both NSW and Victoria. Maoneng’s previous Australian solar investment, the 13MW Mugga Lane solar park in the ACT, generates around 24,500 megawatt hours – so this is a big step up. 

There’s talk of the plant also using batteries to store excess power making it one of the first solar farms in New South Wales to do so. According to a statement from Decmil, “This will provide greater energy reliability and allow the solar farm to produce electricity during periods of peak demand rather than only during sunlight hours.”

Large-Scale Solar Farm Competitors

Although this will be Australia’s largest solar plant for a while, there are currently three projects which will be larger when they are completed: 

No doubt before those three are finished we’ll have even bigger plants on the horizon – it’s great watching the neverending race of large-scale solar! 

 

 

 

AGL Virtual Power Plant Upgrade?

AGL have confirmed that their trial of networked home storage batteries has been halted temporarily as they manage unknown variables with their ‘Virtual Power Plant’ – which was labelled by AGL as the ‘largest project of its kind in the world’ earlier this year.

Virtual Power Plant

AGL Virtual Power Plant
AGL Virtual Power Plant (source: @AndyVesey_AGL)

The scheme went live in March at West Lakes in Adelaide and has see hundreds of households’ solar and battery storage linked together to form a 5MW ‘virtual solar power station’. The scheme cost $20m and ARENA (the Australian Renewable Energy Agency) kicked in $5m of that to back the project. As such the cost to the consumer was heavily subsidised and interest has been very high within the test area. 

At the time AGL MD and CEO Andy Vesey said “Our South Australian VPP demonstration is a practical example of the new energy future,” – noting that AGL planned their ‘VPP’ will deliver benefits by increasing grid stability (albeit just for the test group for the time being). The batteries installed were by Sunverge, a producer of intelligent energy storage and advanced AC-coupled storage systems. They use a proprietary virtual power plant software, and in this situation were unique as all the batteries could be remotely operated by AGL. Some customers paid extra for the AC coupled storage systems so they could use them during a blackout. 

There have, however, been potential hiccups with the Virtual Power Plant this week as AGL wrote to waitlisted customers to advise them they won’t receive any of the current Sunverge batteries, and that they plan to utilise “next-generation battery technology into our next phase of installations”. 

The ABC asked AGL about the issues with their VPP and they dodged the question about how many batteries being replaced (and what their upgrade plan is), but a spokesman did say that “Lessons and customer feedback from the initial phase of the project are being used to shape subsequent phases and we want to ensure that all customers have an opportunity to opt in to the next generation offering,”

We’ll keep you updated to see what they’re going to offer for the next phase of their Virtual Power Plant – another exciting step for energy storage technology for South Australia.

Redback Smart Hybrid System / EnergyAustralia

Queensland based solar company Redback Technologies have teamed up with EnergyAustralia to offer a “next generation” smart solar plus storage system, named the Redback Smart Hybrid – which is slated to pay for itself within seven years.

Redback Smart Hybrid System

Redback Smart Hybrid Battery Enclosure
Redback Smart Hybrid Battery Enclosure (source: redbacktech.com)

According to the Australian Financial Review, the system will utilise smart technology to optimise use of solar panels and batteries depending on usage and weather patterns. It’ll also have an app which allows users to remotely control and monitor operation of the Redback Smart Hybrid system.

Estimates from EnergyAustralia say that a normal household with usage of 8000kWh / year will save around $1,500 a year with the Redback Smart Hybrid system (4.9kW solar array and 3.3kWh battery). That system would cost around $9,000, or $7,000 to retrofit to existing panels with some modifications to the inverter. One of the main bonuses of the system is that it’s modular – so customers are able to scale up if they’re interested in expanding. It makes use of the Redback Smart Hybrid Solar Inverter which is designed in Brisbane, and different batteries / solar panels depending on your circumstances.

Kane Thornton, CEO of the Clean Energy Council called the system an example of the “game-changing” tech currently coming out to help combat rapidly rising electricity bills.

Andrew Perry of Energy Australia was circumspect to the AFR about specific sales goals for the system, but did advise that they have “strong ambitions for growth”. It certainly seems like we are heading very quickly to the point where solar + storage is a no-brainer for certain types of consumer – especially with the ‘smart technology’ removing the need for spreadsheets and PhDs for those wanting to get a strong result from their solar investment. To get a system like this for under $10,000 is a great deal – we’ll be very interested to see how sales go over the coming months.

Redback Smart Hybrid vs Tesla Powerwall

Technically the Redback Smart Hybrid is just an inverter + smart energy management system, but the Smart Hybrid system being offered by EnergyAustralia is an ‘all in one’ system. In comparison to the Powerwall which is just an inverter + storage,  it’s a bit difficult to compare them fairly. It is important to note that given the modular design of the Smart Hybrid, you’re able to ‘start off small’ with a 3.3kWh battery (as opposed to the Powerwall 2, which you can also add to, but only in increments of 13.4kWh) and grow from there.

The PowerWall is significantly more expensive than the Redback, and doesn’t include solar panels. However, if money is less of an issue and you’re prepared to wait, the Tesla Solar Roof Australian release date is currently “early 2018” and will undoubtedly be a premium solution for those who are interested in aesthetics along with quality.

It seems that both systems have their own niche depending on how much one wants to pay – but you certainly couldn’t be faulted for taking a look at the Redback Smart Hybrid price point and being impressed. If the smart tech works like they say it does, it’ll be a very powerful contender against all comers. Not having to worry about compatibility is definitely a big plus – although the battery / panels used may differ depending on your circumstances, EnergyAustralia will ensure the system fits together nicely.

The Redback / EnergyAustralia Partnership

EnergyAustralia invested $9.3m into Redback Technologies last October – their first major investment. The two companies have been working together on various projects including back in April where they inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to bring Redback’s solar tech to Dubai South for a pilot project.

Have a look at the video below which introduces Redback Technologies, their founder and MD Philip Livingston, and explains more about their partnership with EnergyAustralia.

Redflow News: to move manufacturing to Thailand

A lot of Redflow news recently – the Australian solar battery manufacturer has had a fairly tumultuous 2017, with the temporarily halt in delivery of their zCell batteries to fix some operational issues, to a steadily sinking share price. The last couple of months had had more positive news, with an $800,000 sale of its ZBM2 batteries to New Zealand company Hitech Solutions and the establishment of a company in Thailand to manage the manufacturing process of its zinc-bromide flow batteries in South East Asia.

Redflow News: Equity, Thailand, Change in Direction..

Redflow News - ZBM2 Solar Battery
Redflow News – ZBM2 Solar Battery

Redflow Limited made a statement to the ASX on August 17 where they noted that the final North American production batch of ZBM2 batteries is now in transit to Australia. They have a new manufacturing partner, Malaysian based MPTS, who have been a long term supplier of components for the Redflow battery. They have moved their manufacturing base from Flex in Mexico to Thailand, and have cut staff in Europe and the US in order to streamline operating costs.

They also completed an equity raising round via a share placement of $10.5 million in two portions to investors and another $4 million in shares to Hackett CP Nominees Pty Ltd (i.e. Redflow CEO Simon Hackett).

Hackett was positive about the future of the company, noting that “In May Redflow recorded its largest sale to date, to an energy systems integrator working in the telecommunications and network power sector.”

Meanwhile, Redflow Chief Operating Officer Richard Aird discussed the impact of moving manufacturing locations and hinted towards their plans for the future, posting on the Redflow website that “The activities Redflow is undertaking to transition manufacturing and to implement key product cost-down projects are critical to the future success of the company,”.

This comes off the back of a statement by Redflow that they were less bullish about the future of their ZBM2 zinc-bromide flow batteries in the residential sector in Australia, given the rapid sink in cost of mass produced lithium ion batteries and being unable to match these prices. A statement from the company advised that a strategic review has necessitated a change in focus:

“The review anticipates that this may not translate into strong sustained sales growth in the mid and late majority residential market, due to the price-sensitivity of competitive, highly commoditised markets, which tend to prioritise a low purchase price over technical advantages, such as those offered by Zinc-Bromine flow batteries.”

Quite a big quarter for Redflow news and we’ll be interested to see how its move into large arrays of battery storage goes – the company has identified that they will focus on more mature markets – industrial, commercial, off-grid, telecommunications companies where they will look to replace existing lead acid battery with their zinc-bromide offering.

Will the $800,000 sale to Hitech Solutions be a flash in the pan or a harbinger of things to come? It’s great to see how they have been flexible in terms of moving around their operational focus – hopefully this new focus will prove to be more fruitful than their foray into the residential market.

SonnenBatterie Eco 8 vs Tesla Powerwall

German solar company sonnen have been in the news quite a lot recently – they’ve gained 13% of the Australian solar battery market since entering it in 2016 – selling over 11,000 battery units. One of their best selling solar batteries is the SonnenBatterie Eco 8.2 – we’re going to take a look at it today and see how it stacks up against the more popular offerings like the Powerwall 2. Sonnen have sold over 10,000 of these units and have 75% of the market in Germany – the Eco 8 is the eighth iteration of a supremely powerful and mature battery. Let’s learn more:

SonnenBatterie Eco 8.2

sonnenBatterie Eco 8 Australia
sonnenBatterie Eco 8 Australia (source: sonnen)

It’s not suitable for outdoor use (only IP21 rated) and wasn’t previously off-grid compatible, but the Sonnen Eco is now available with automatic blackout/backup power option (sonnenProtect 1300). IT has a 1.3kW total load limit so it won’t run your reverse cycle air con and dishwasher, but is suitable for less intensive appliances like energy efficient fridges, lamps, laptops, fans, chargers, and so on.  It was crazy that sonnen thought it was okay to release a premium solar storage battery without this option, but I digress…click here to read the sonnenProtect 1300 Specifications and datasheet.

Here are some of the of the sonnen Eco specifications:

  • 2-16kWh capacity (modular design which increases in 2kWh increments).
  • Easy to retrofit to your existing panels.
  • Compatible with all panels.
  • 10year / 10,000 cycle warranty.
  • 2.5 cycles per day (2.5x ‘value’ and faster payback).
  • Inverter included.
  • Online management with ‘self learning algorithm’ (automatically decides the best times to charge and supply).
  • Proper UPS and automatic blackout protection with SonnenBatterie Protect 1300.
  • Reliable supplier who has been making these batteries since 2008.

After more technical info? Click here to read the sonnenEco Datasheet.

SonnenBatterie vs Tesla Powerwall

This is a real battle of the premium energy storage giants – you can certainly get systems for less but if you want the best it’s Powerwall vs. SonnenBatterie.

The Powerwall 2 and the SonnenBatterie eco are both ‘fully integrated’ systems – which means the unit included inverter, all the power components, and software. They’re both AC coupled – so you’re able to connect microinverters or string inverters to either of them if you so desire.

As mentioned previously, the Eco is only for indoor installation but the Powerwall can be installed outside.

They both have 10 year warranties but the Eco 8 is also covered for 10k cycles – the Powerwall, by comparison, only offers 3,650 cycles.

The Sonnen Eco comes in 8 different sizes, but the comparable model to the Powerwall (14kWh) is currently a little more expensive than the Powerwall. How much, it depends on who you talk to – but if you’re interested in getting a quote then look below:

Buy SonnenBatterie in Australia

If you want to buy a SonnenBatterie and you’re located in Australia, please fill in the form to the right and we’ll help you get the system installed by a qualified professional, at a great price.

If you’re interested in watching some promotional videos about the product, then please watch this video below to learn more about the sconnenBatterie eco direct from sonnen themselves:

Watch this video to learn more about sonnenBatterie and energy independence:

Carnegie’s Garden Island Microgrid starts construction.

Carnegie Clean Energy, whose solar, battery, wave and desalination microgrid plans have been the topic of much discussion since they was announced earlier this year, have commenced construction on their 2MW Perth solar PV / battery energy storage microgrid. Carnegie’s Garden Island Microgrid (GIMG) project will be the largest embedded, grid-connected solar and battery microgrid in Australia.

About the Garden Island Microgrid

According to Carnegie’s website, Carnegie Clean Energy Limited (formerly Carnegie Wave Energy) is an “Australian, ASX-listed (ASX: CCE) developer of utility scale solar, battery, wave and hybrid energy projects.” The website notes that Carnegie is the only company in the world which has a  combination of wave, solar, wind, battery storage and desalination via microgrids.

Carnegie Clean Energy - Garden Island Microgrid
Carnegie Clean Energy – Garden Island Microgrid (source: carnegiece.com)

Using microgrid technology means the project will be able to function independently from the main power grid, and using hybrid sources of energy generation along with storage means they won’t run out of energy if the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow. The system will have 3MW of solar PV panels and a 2MW battery energy storage system.

Carnegie’s chief exec Michael Ottaviano was quoted earlier this year (at an energy storage conference in Sydney) discussing stand alone power systems (microgrids) – after having installed over a dozen for both Western Power and Horizon Energy. “It is just a cheaper, cleaner more secure solution than the alternative,” Ottaviano said. “The cost of technology is coming down. What was an economic driver for remotes systems, is now true for the fringe of grid and on the main grid too.”

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and Defence Minister Marise Payne released a joint statement which lauded the work done by Carnegie:  “The Government continues to support the work of Carnegie and we look forward to seeing how this project will inform Carnegie’s ability to provide energy security solutions at island locations in the future”.

Carnegie have inked supply agreements with the Department of Defense (in order to supply power and water (via the desalination plant) to HMAS Stirling – Australia’s biggest naval base in Perth, which is home to more than 2,300 service personnel.

Redback Technologies Product Range

One of the most exciting solar companies in Queensland is Redback Technologies, based in Indooroopilly. They’ve got a great product and have been moving in very exciting directions over the last 18 months – we’re looking to seeing what the future brings for this young company.

About Redback Technologies

Have a look at the video below which introduces Redback Technologies, their founder and MD Philip Livingston, and explains more about their partnership with EnergyAustralia.

Redback Technologies were founded in 2015 and are, according to their LinkedIn profile, ‘a technology company focused on the development of advanced, low cost solar solutions for residential and commercial users’. They offer market leading integrated hardware and software technologies.

Redback were recently in the news for being granted $1.96 million by the QLD Government as they inked an MoU to bring their tech to Dubai. You can read our report on that by clicking here. Livingston was also ‘bullish’ on the recent Tesla South Australia deal – being quoted as saying “More storage rather than less is a good thing. Having storage in the grid as a buffer is good for consumers. Mr Musk is a role model for many of us in the way he approaches things.”.

Redback Technologies Product Range

Redback are currently offering their Smart Hybrid Solar Inverter System with Battery Enclosure.

It consists of:

  • 6kW Solar Panel Input
  • 4.6kW inverter
  • UPS and backup power included
  • Compatible with ‘a variety of batteries’
  • Able to install inside or outside, floor or wall mounted.
  • Constructed from ‘high grade aluminium’.
  • Inverter is IP65 rated.

It’s different from standard solar + storage systems in that they use Redback’s proprietary software and don’t lock you into using a specific battery – there are a number of popular 2.4kWh storage options you can slot into the enclosure.

Learn more about the Generation II Hybrid by visiting the Redback Website.

The Smart Hybrid Battery Enclosure is also well constructed and fits a number of energy storage batteries – it consists of:

  • 4 x 19″ 2 rack mountable battery packs
  • Up to 9.6kWh storage capacity (4 x 2.4kWh batteries)
  • Passive and active cooling
  • Smart temperature control
  • IP54 rated environmental protection rating
  • <25dB noise emissions
  • Prewired – easy installation.

Perhaps the ‘jewel’ in the crown of Redback’s offerings is their advanced solar power management software – entitled ‘Ouija Board’ – which you can learn about in the video above.

With Ouija Board you can remotely control inverters from an app or a web portal – and it’s upgradeable for both software and hardware (firmware) via wi-fi or 4g (optional). It has relay support for pool pumps and water heaters, smart load scheduling, supports IoT (Internet of Things) devices, and is customisable for peak time tariff support. The Ouija board provides some amazing ‘intelligent technology’ to help store, monitor and manage your home’s solar energy. We’re working on getting some screenshots and sample reports from Redback – some of the insight they offer into your power usage can save hundreds (or thousands) of dollars.

Redback Technologies Product Range
Redback Technologies Product Range

Buy Redback Technologies Solar

If you’re interested in purchasing anything from the Redback range please fill out the form to the right of this article and we’ll be in touch with some ways we can help you invest in solar while using a quality local company with great products and a local warranty.