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. 

Vanadium Redox/Flow Battery Storage

Today we’re going to look at the vanadium redox battery, also known as the VRB or vanadium flow battery. It’s a rapidly improving type of rechargeable flow battery which employs vanadium ions in different oxidation states to store chemical potential energy. The battery involves energy stored in chemical form, in a liquid electrolyte (V2O5) contained in two separate tanks. The battery uses the ability of vanadium to exist in solution in four oxidation states, using this property to make a battery that has one electroactive element instead of two.

The Vanadium Energy Storage Battery

In many ways it is a superior technology to lithium-ion, which was designed with portability in mind and as such is not necessarily the best choice for larger scale energy storage. 

  • Long-scale duration (they can run for excess of 25 years)
  • No self-discharge
  • No Memory/Ghost effect (always runs at 100% discharge)
  • Up to 1 year charge retention.
  • Excellent scalability. 

According to Wikipedia, second-generation batteries (utilising vanadium and bromine) could double the energy density whilst simultaneously increasing the temperature range in which the battery is operable.

Vanadium Vs. Lithium Ion

Vanadium flow batteries offer 100% capacity for a lifespan of up to 25 years. Lithium-ion degrades quite seriously (e.g. the Tesla Powerwall 2 guarantees at least 70% of the original capacity after 10 years or 37,800 kilowatt-hours). 

They’re also safer than lithium-ion – the chemistry involved in VRBs is non-flammable and non-explosive (in contrast to lithium-ion – have a read about the exploding Samsung Note 7).

Vanadium won’t replace lithium-ion in any small applications, however – they are too big and heavy for any small items like mobile phones or laptops. In terms of storing solar power, their increased safety, 100% depth of discharge, and 100% capacity for up to 25 years means there are definitely some serious benefits over lithium-ion. 

Vanadium Energy Storage Options

StorEn THERMASTABLE Vanadium Flow Battery
StorEn THERMASTABLE Vanadium Flow Battery (source: cleantechnica.com)

StorEn are planning on making their THERMASTABLE batteries available in late 2019 – targetting the US first and then other countries after that. 

VSun Energy Pty Ltd offer the VRB energy storage system aka the Cellcube and the first battery has already been installed in Western Australia. According to the website, they are also in initial talks and have submitted proposals to other companies, with potential customers emerging from a range of backgrounds, including mining and exploration companies, the farming community and industrial sites.

Other manufacturers of VRBS include Schmid, UET, redT Energy and Rongke Power.

We’ll keep this page updated with more information about this new technology and what sort of applications we’re seeing it used in! Something will come along to usurp lithium-ion soon enough, both for small-scale and large-scale storage – the technology has been lagging for years and we’re excited to see what comes next. 

Tesla Battery in South Australia completed.

Elon Musk’s 100MW Tesla Battery in South Australia has been completed – well ahead of its December 1 operation deadline. The array of Tesla Powerpack batteries will be tested over the coming days and we can expect the system to be fully live by next Friday.

Tesla Battery in South Australia 

Tesla Battery in South Australia
Tesla Battery in South Australia (source: Tesla)

The Tesla South Australia battery partnership was first inked back in July when Musk partnered with Neoen and signed an agreement with the South Australian government to create the world’s largest lithium-ion battery. The battery farm is powered by Neoen’s 315MW Hornsdale wind farm and is located adjacent to it in Jamestown, about 200 kilometres north of Adelaide. 

The $50 million system is capable of outputting 129MWh and can be used as baseline power during summer peak loading periods, where it can provide enough energy to power 30,000 homes for eight hours, or 60,000 for four. While this might not seem like a lot and one wonders if another company could have done it for cheaper (91 groups bid for the project), it’s definitely been a great way to raise awareness of energy storage in Australia and its rapidly rising uptake (and rapidly decreasing cost). 

It’s important to note that the Tesla battery is far from a panacea for South Australia’s energy woes – as Tony Wood, the energy program director at the Grattan Institute, told the Sydney Morning Herald:

“Over time, storage can help put downward pressure on prices because it can flatten out peak demand,” Wood said.

“It’s a very useful step in the right direction … but it doesn’t solve South Australia’s problem, even at that scale.”

In the meantime, Tesla continues to burn through cash at the rate of $8,000 USD / minute as they struggle to get on top of the Model 3 rollout. What does this mean for the Powerwall 3? The next 12 months will be extremely interesting for Elon Musk and his ‘blue sky’ investors – we hope they’re able to get all their ducks in a row and Musk can start making Tesla more cashflow positive. 

In the meantime, let’s see how Tesla’s battery works over summer for South Australia! 

Solar Train on the rails in Byron Bay

A world first in Byron Bay this week – the world’s first ‘true’ solar train will run on a 3km section of the now disused Casino-Murwillimbah line, linking the Byron Bay town centre with the Elements of Byron resort north-west of Byron. It’ll be delivered within the next week or so. 

Byron Bay Solar Train

Byron Bay Solar Train
Byron Bay Solar Train (source: byronbaytrain.com.au)

Funnily enough, in an apt sign of the times with regards to the shift to renewables Australia is currently experiencing, the Elements of Byron resort is owned by coal businessman Brian Flannery. He also owns the solar train company itself – a not for profit named The Byron Bay Railroad Co. 

Solar panels have been used to power train lights before, but the Byron Bay Railroad Co. say their train will be the first to run purely on solar power. The 100-seat train will also have a diesel motor as a backup. 

It’s currently being sent from Lithgow, the train has had eArche solar panels and battery storage installed. The eArche panels were recently introduced to Australia by Chinese businessman and longtime solar power enthusiast Zhengrong Shi. They’ve been manufactured by his Hong-Kong based company SunMan Energy. 

30kW of PV Solar panels have been installed on the station and storage shed built next to the Elements of Byron resort, and the train itself will feature 6.5kW of the SunMan eArche flexible, lightweight solar panels Shi brought to the market earlier this year. This is important as the flexible panels are able to be adapted to the contour of the train so as not to interfere with its aesthetics. The train will also have 77kWh of Kokam solar batteries installed, and the timetable has been tweaked so they are able to use renewable energy at almost all times.

Nick Lake, from Nickel Energy, who consulted on the project, told RenewEconomy last week that the solar train was chosen due to community resistance to the idea of a diesel train (noise, pollution, etc.)

“There was fair bit of community resistance to the idea of a diesel train,” Lake said. “So we started exploring what the options were. We looked at how much power was needed, noted it was a flat run, and that helped size the electric motors.”

Have a look at their website by clicking here. Have you been on the Byron Bay Solar Train? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear about it! 

The Byron Bay Solar Train in action
The Byron Bay Solar Train in action (source: byronbaytrain.com.au)

 

Tesla Powerpack Australia Cost, Installations

The Tesla Powerpack battery system allows for commercial-grade solar energy storage and is fast becoming the medium of choice for those that want a scalable, industrial solution to energy storage (e.g. the Tesla South Australia battery partnership currently being undertaken). 

About the Tesla Powerpack 2

Tesla has rolled out the Powerpack 2 worldwide, which is a scalable, adaptable commercial energy storage solution. They start at 50kW (AC) per Powerpack and can run up to 100MWh, depending on your requirements – it’s a fully modular system. Each Powerpack has 210kWh energy capacity, 100% depth of discharge, are fully IP67 compliant, and provide 380 to 480V 3 phase power.  They have 16 discrete battery pods, a thermal control system and myriad sensors to monitor and report on its performance/any problems that may occur. 

The Powerpack 2 comes with an inverter included and improves on its predecessor with more storage and higher efficiency. 

Over 300MWh of these batteries have already been deployed globally. SolarCity are using a 52MWh Powerpack (along with a 12MW solar farm) to bring 20 years of power to Kaua’i in Hawaii – they’re already installed in over 18 countries (and these figures are over a year old) and Elon Musk expects that “80% if not 90%” of all the stationary storage Tesla sell will be the Powerpack, not the Powerwall – so you can see what their plans are with regards to commercial solar vs residential solar. 

Just in case you’re thinking about ducking out to pick one up, please note that they weigh 1622kg each, and the inverter weighs 1200kg, so maybe have a protein shake first. 

Tesla Powerpack Datasheet is available on the Tesla website. 

Tesla Powerpack at the Logan Water Disinfection Plant

The ABC is reporting that installation of the Tesla Powerpack at the Logan City Council’s new water reservoir at Round Mountain has saved them $1.9 million in power connection costs. 

The Logan Water Infrastructure Alliance and local energy saving company CSR Bradford installed 323 PV Solar panels at the 20 Megalitre Round Mountain Reservoir, which provides drinking water for locals. To go alongside the solar panels a 95kWH Tesla Powerpack was installed and the council says this has resulted in a saving of $1.9million AUD and operational cost savings of around $50,000 per year. 

CSR Bradford Business Manager, Ashleigh O’Brien said the Logan City project was the first off-grid commercial solar and battery system in Australia powered by Tesla Powerpack. No doubt there will be many more!

Tesla Powerpack Australia Cost

Tesla Powerpack 2 Australia
Tesla Powerpack 2 Australia (source: tesla.com)

Tesla doesn’t have prices on their website (and this is quite a customised offering) but you can request a sales call from the official Powerpack page. Accredited Tesla suppliers will also be able to help you if you’re interested in business solar storage – this is not a cheap option but it can save a lot of money, as seen in the case above with Logan Council. 

If you’d like a hand please fill in the form to the right and we’d be happy to help – additionally, if you have any questions or would like to share your experience with the Powerpack please comment below! 

Reposit Power and their Virtual Power Station

Canberra-based renewable energy startup Reposit Power are predicting their client base will double within a year, and hope to have their technology in 5,000 homes by 2020. Their ‘virtual power station’ model is one we’ve seen before (Enova’s community solar, AGL’s virtual power plant which is in advanced stages of trials), but we’re excited to see how Reposit’s system works. Anything that helps improve baseline power is great for Australian energy as a whole. 

Reposit Solar, the Reposit Box, and ‘Grid Credits’

Reposit Power Control Diagram
Reposit Power Operation Diagram (source: repositpower.com.au)

Reposit Power have a ‘smarter, more intuitive way’ to control energy usage. According to their site, it typically costs approximately 4-6% on top of solar + storage, but these batteries will then be paid off in half the time as standard solar + storage. 

The system learns your energy usage patterns to feed back into the grid at optimum times. Every GridCredit you feed back into Reposit’s virtual grid represents a dollar off your bill – and the system automatically trades excess energy for GridCredits when the demand is at its highest. 

The system also uses advanced weather models to predict solar usage, factors in peak/offpeak tariffs, and will even charge your system overnight from the cheaper tariffs if it detects a probably energy shortfall for the next day’s peak hours.  It has an app which will display all information you need to know about the system, how much you’re saving, and how many GridCredits you are earning. 

Reposit Power Compatible Batteries

There are currently eight Reposit compatible batteries – they are available ‘pre-integrated’ from leading vendors or you can 

  • LG Chem Resu 6.4kWh
  • LG Chem Resu
  • LG Chem Resu HV
  • Fronius Solar Battery
  • GCL e-KwBe
  • Pylontech
  • Tesla Powerwall 1
  • Samsung All in One ESS

Reposit Power & Tesla Powerwall 2 Compatibility

Please note that there are no GridCredits on the Tesla Powerwall 2 as they won’t integrate with cloud / Internet only based control systems – given that it wouldn’t be able to function correctly if the Internet was unavailable. Since the Powerwall 2 is tremendously popular, this is a serious blow to Reposit Power’s ‘virtual power station’ – wonder if they’ll figure out a way to rectify this before the Tesla Powerwall 3 announcement

If you want to read more about Reposit’s choice to not integrate with these cloud control systems please click here to read a detailed post on their website. 

If you want to understand Reposit’s system please view the video below! 

Solar Battery growth rises in 2017.

Solar battery growth continues to rise exponentially – the huge rises in the price of electricity over the past 36 months have led to a record uptake in the number of Australian households opting to install solar batteries for energy storage. Although still in its relative infancy, the technology is being adopted at a rapid rate and there’s no doubt it’s only a matter of time before every house with solar power has some sort of solar battery installed. 

Solar Battery Growth

According to a solar energy report quoted in the Herald Sun, around 7,000 solar battery system were sold and installed across Australia in the first six months of the year, compared to 6,500 last year. Queensland leads the charge, with New South Wales and Victoria close behind. In a market that has already doubled in two years, there is still a way to go before we see solar batteries as ubiquitous in Aussie households, but things are heading in the right direction, and a lot faster than you may think!

Tesla Powerwall 2 Solar Battery Growth
Tesla Powerwall 2 – a catalyst for solar battery growth.

Volkswagen just announced they will spend $50b on energy storage battery technology for its new line of EV cars – there are whispers about the Tesla Powerwall 3 – what’s next for solar battery growth?

Solar Battery Comparisons

There are a lot of different options on the market right now – a bunch of people are still waiting until the technology ‘catches up’ but solar storage can already be quite affordable – with average costs between $4,000 and $13,000, depending on the size/brand you choose. The Herald Sun estimates that it will take approximately eight years for a solar panel + storage system to pay for itself – i.e. it’s not economically viable for everybody right now but depending on your individual circumstances it’s far from a pipe dream. With that said, prices are expected to drop by up to 30% over the next few years as production ramps up and advances in the technology are factored in. 

If you’re interested in doing some research about energy storage, we have a page about the Tesla Powerwall 2 and its alternatives and competitors – there are many options to choose from such as Fronius, BYD B-Box, Redflow, LG Chem, sonnenBatterie, Enphase, Eaton Nissan xStorage, and so on. Make sure you figure out exactly what you need (e.g. grid or off grid? If you’re on-grid do you want power in a blackout? How much power do you need)   and do your due diligence before committing to a system – and if you already have solar panels make sure the storage system and inverter will pair correctly – not all solar systems are created equal! If you have any questions feel free to give us an email or sound off in the comments below – we’d be happy to help.