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. 

ACT’s Next Generation Energy Storage Program

The ACT’s Next Generation Energy Storage Program will provide solar batteries to over 5,000 homes and businesses by 2020, offering $25m of funding so ACT residents are able to take advantage of rapidly evolving solar battery technology at a subsidised price. 

Next Generation Energy Storage Program

Next Generation Energy Storage Program in the ACT (source: actsmart.act.gov.au)
Subsidised Solar Batteries – Next Generation Energy Storage Program in the ACT (source: actsmart.act.gov.au)

According to ACT Climate Change Minister Shane Rattenbury there are plans to increase the current amount of storage by up to 36x by 2020: 

“We’ve already had around 400 batteries installed across the city. It’s providing over a megawatt of storage which is both helping households cut their energy bills, manage their own energy usage, but also provide backup for the grid here in the Territory,” he said.

“The battery storage roll-out program is building on Canberra’s reputation as a globally-recognised hub for the renewable energy industry,” Mr Rattenbury was quoted as saying – noting that the program will offer support of up to $825 for each kilowatt of sustained peak output for homes and businesses who install a battery (it can be connected to a new or existing PV solar system). The government estimates that this will represent a subsidy of approximately $4,000 for an average household solar system. 

Six partners have been awarded $3m in grants to help fund the project: ActewAGL Retail, Energy Matters, EPC Solar, Evergen, ITP Renewables, Origin Energy, Power Saving Centre, and Solar Hub. EPC Solar and Evergen were already in the project, the rest are new additions. 

Mr Rattenbury also noted that this project will also help expand the virtual power plant Reposit Power and EvoEnergy are currently trialling: 

“The batteries are also contributing to the world’s largest residential virtual power plant being trialled by Reposit Power and EvoEnergy (formerly ActewAGL Distribution), which allows battery owners to sell their energy to the grid to help support the electricity network.”

For more information and how to apply, click here to download the actsmart battery storage fact sheet

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! 

Adani’s Whyalla Solar Farm greenlit

India based energy company Adani have received development approval for a $200 million, 140MW Whyalla solar farm. The farm will consist of PV solar modules and operate on a single axis tracking system. 

Adani’s Whyalla Solar Farm

Whyalla Solar Farm Adani
Whyalla Solar Farm (source: @AdaniAustralia on Twitter)

The solar plant will be located 10km north of Whyalla’s centre, on the Port Lincoln Highway. It will originally generate 100MW and the potential capacity of the solar plant will be up to 140MW. According to AdelaideNow, grid connection will be via the 132kv network between the Whyalla Centra and Cultana substations.

Although the original development application didn’t include any information about battery storage, this is an option that Adani is also investigating. 

No PPA (Power Purchasing Agreement) has been signed yet, but as soon as that is sorted out we will see a starting date for construction of the farm – which is expected to be some time in 2018. The plant should be generating renewable energy by 2019. The construction phase of this solar farm is expected to create 350 jobs and could be “just the tip of the iceberg” for Whyalla, Giles MP Eddie Hughes told news.com.au last year. 

“Since 1998 Whyalla has wanted to become the solar capital,” said Mr Hughes. “It’s the realisation of the dream to have a major proponent come to us.”

Other Whyalla Solar Projects

News of Adani’s solar farm comes off the back of Zen Energy approving a $700m solar, battery and pumped-hydro storage project to power Zen Energy owner Sanjeev Gupta’s Liberty OneSteel works in Whyalla. The project is expected to provide 1 gigawatt (1000MW) and also  100MW/100MWh battery storage. Hopefully, this will also provide some help to the real estate market in Whyalla, which has dropped by 21% in 2017 so far. 

Adani also has another $100m solar farm in Moranbah awaiting DA from the Isaac Regional Council. 

 

sonnenCommunity – Info, Australia Release Date?

sonnenCommunity is a peer-to-peer energy-sharing solution which has been live in Germany (with a small expansion in Italy) for over three years. The nationwide, cloud-based, virtual power plant is comprised of around 8,000 homes with storage panels and a sonnenBatterie and has been growing rapidly. With their recent announcement of an American sonnenCommunity and rapid expansion of sonnen in Australia (including their sonnenFlat flat rate electricity offering), how long will it be until we see the service in Australia? 

About sonnenCommunity

sonnenCommunity in Europe Statistics
sonnenCommunity in Europe Statistics (source: sonnenbatterie.de)

According to the official site, it’s a ‘community of sonnenBatterie owners who are committed to a cleaner and fairer energy future’. The site has a live widget showing the feed-in for the last 12 months, which was showing almost 15 million kWh and the grid consumption, which was a little over 8 million. This means the prevention of almost 9 million tonnes of co2. Amazing statistics! 

We’ve also embedded a video below about the service – give it a watch and let us know in the comments if you have any questions.

sonnenCommunity in Arizona, USA

sonnen announced a partnership with Mandalay Homes this week, which will bring their ‘Clean Energy Communities’ initiative to 3,000 homes in Arizona. This will mean the deployment of over 10GW of solar panels and 11.6MW of battery storage systems in the ‘Jasper’ community in Prescott Valley. 

As America has many different grids and operators, the homes will be connected to local utility Arizona Public Service (APS). The systems will trade electricity between themselves and will try to minimise flow back into the APS grid and maximise the amount of power bought from the sonnenCommunity in peak times (3-8pm). When required, the sonnenBatteries will recharge from the grid during off-peak times (2-5am). 

sonnen Director of Business Development Olaf Flohr estimated in PV Magazine that the system will allow Jasper residents to be 75-80% energy independent and that bills will be around $24 USD per month. 

sonnenCommunity in Australia

sonnenCommunity was easier to launch in Germany because they have one interconnected grid system – which means sonnen was able to cut out the utility companies and work directly with the grid operator to launch their service. 

Usually, a regional utility company will manage the sale, distribution, and energy movements through the grid. It’ll be interesting to see how sonnenCommunity fares in America – this ‘trial run’ will see how much opportunity there is to expand in areas such as Australia. 

Given the fact that Australia is a world leader when it comes to household solar installations, it’d make sense to bring the service over here. Watch this space! 

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! 

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.  

 

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.