Vecco Group: $25m for Australia’s first vanadium battery plant.

Queensland-based Vecco Group will spend up to $25 million building Australia’s first vanadium battery plant in Brisbane.

Vecco Group and Australia’s first vanadium battery plant

According to InQueensland, Vecco Group have come to an agreement with China’s Shanghai Electric – one of the largest electrical equipment manufacturing companies in China – for an initial purchase of vanadium electrolytes (Confused about flow batteries? Click here to learn how a Vanadium Redox Battery works)

Thomas Northcott, Managing Director of Vecco Group said, “this is a significant step forward for Vecco in securing an integrated supply chain from our Debella Vanadium + HPA Project through to battery production.”

“We are excited to be capturing the first mover advantage in Australia and south east Asia for what is a rapidly growing market for large scale renewable energy storage.” Northcott continued in a press release from Vecco Group.

“Demand is currently strong and there is significant future demand supplying large long duration vanadium batteries to support green hydrogen projects around Australia.”

Vecco is also carrying out a pre-IPO to raise $5 million and is aiming at a full IPO next year.

As we continue with advancements in solar battery technology, it’s fantastic to see alternative options to lithium-ion – the flow batteries such as Redflow are awfully heavy but they have a great use case if the technology can continue improving at this rate. With that said, vanadium batteries have been proposed as early as the 1930’s and have been in production since the 1980’s, so they probably have some ground to make up.

Vecco Group Flow Battery example by Colintheone – https://avs.scitation.org/doi/10.1116/1.4983210, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59002803

The vanadium industry

The vanadium industry has progressed significantly in 2021 with multiple announcements, including one from from mining billionaire Robert Friedland’s company VRB Energy. VRB announced a 500MWh vanadium flow battery in March. Gigafactory in China and Sir Mick Davis, the ex-CEO of Xstrata are also invested in Kazakhstan based vanadium company Ferro-Alloy Resources.

Vanadium flow batteries last for 25 years, suffer no capacity degradation and a low environmental footprint, as the electrolyte is almost 100% recyclable.

Other companies working in the space include UniEnergy Technologies, StorEn Technologies, and Ashlawn Energy in the United States; Renewable Energy Dynamics Technology and VoltStorage in Europe; Prudent Energy in China;Australian Vanadium in Australia.

 

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4 Main Types Of Batteries For Solar Storage

(source: Unsplash.com)

When choosing a solar battery, there are various essential things to consider such as the battery’s lifespan, cost, how much power each battery can provide etc. There are multiple models of batteries which can store solar energy, all with advantages and disadvantages. The best ones for storage applications are recognized as the safest to use by the NEC 2020.  

Here below are the most trusted batteries currently available in the market for solar storage purposes.

Nickel Based Battery

Nickel-based batteries are used on a large scale for energy storage purposes because their characters perform well in all kinds of temperatures. Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) is the most common technique used.  Nickel-based batteries have been used in large-scale energy storage projects as they perform well in all types of temperatures. Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) is the most common Nickel-based battery technology used with the lowest cost than the other batteries. They are more appropriate for off-framework establishment as they have a dependable reinforcement framework and don’t need regular maintenance, yet the absence of support will lessen their cycle checks. They don’t require ventilation or cooling and have a long life cycle. They are available in a wide range of sizes and performances and even can be stored in a discharged state because of their long shelf life. Moreover, Cadmium used in these batteries is a toxic metal that makes the battery types less user-friendly and leads to lead-acid batteries.

Lead Acid

Lead batteries are renowned for decades. Either they are the bulky ones but are still rapidly being eclipsed by other technologies with more extended guarantees or lower prices as solar battery storage becomes more popular. They have a low self-discharge rate among the presented rechargeable batteries. They have the specific power and are well capable of the high discharge of current among many others, but it charges slowly (14+ hours) among the others and has a low specific energy. The lead batteries are not so eco-friendly, and in case if they are not discarded properly, they can contaminate the environment. That can result in a threat to human health and nature as they contain sulfuric acid and lead that are dangerous elements. So that’s why these batteries are heavy because of their materials. 

Lithium-Ion

The lithium ions are gathering more repute after evolving electric car industry development both in technology and cost. There are two kinds of lithium-ion batteries that exist and are used for large-scale solar battery storage applications: Lithium Manganese Oxide (LMO) is a fast charging but can only enter the C&I market. The Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC) is high energy-specific and stable but relatively new. Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) has a long life cycle with no requirements for ventilation or cooling. At the same time, these batteries have high energy thickness and a somewhat low self-release. They don’t require delayed preparation when new, and one charge is adequate. Lithium-particle batteries are overall poor support, and an occasional release isn’t needed. Anyway, the vast majority of them are still similarly costly to fabricate and are liable to maturing, even while not being utilized and transportation limitations. They likewise require an insurance circuit to keep up voltage and current inside limits.

Flow

They are the new entrants to the battery storage technology family, and even the technology has been used for years. They are known as flow batteries because of the water-based solution of zinc-bromide inside them. They have more prominent plan adaptability, permitting more blend between capacity limit and force yield limit. These Redox flow batteries (RFB) have high flexible energy storage technology and low energy density and less expensive. The Hybrid flow battery has a high storage technology with common charge and discharge rates and less costly. Rather than adding more batteries to a storage system to build its ability, stream batteries need more electrolyte fluid. This electrolyte can be recharged whenever without intruding on power yield. The electrochemical cell can convey power as long as the electrolyte arrangement is accessible.

Wrapping Up!

Settling on the battery innovation will affect the entire power system use and life span. As we have seen, lead-acid batteries are more dependable and have been utilized for quite a long time. Yet, they are not as adaptable or practical as the other batteries appeared previously. It is unquestionably challenging to pick battery storage or the correct EMS that will work with it. After selecting the battery type, one needs to appropriately estimate their battery fleet and track down a viable EMS for choosing a battery based on your demand. 

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Tesla Solar Inverter – first looks!

After an unprecedented 2020, Tesla have been busy in the background and this week have announced the launch of a new solar inverter.

An inverter is an important part of any solar system – it’s used to convert DC power (generated by your solar panels) into AC power (i.e. usable for grid export or usage in the home). For Tesla to dip their toe in this end of the market shows an interesting insight into their overall strategy to help manage renewable energy as widely as possible. Their website has a bit of a spiel about the product:

“Tesla Solar Inverter completes the Tesla home solar system, converting DC power from solar to AC power for home consumption. Tesla’s renowned expertise in power electronics has been combined with robust safety features and a simple installation process to produce an outstanding solar inverter that is compatible with both Solar Roof and traditional solar panels. Once installed, homeowners use the Tesla app to manage their solar system and monitor energy consumption, resulting in a truly unique ecosystem experience.”

Tesla Solar Inverter
Tesla Solar Inverter (source: Tesla.com)

Can I buy the inverter in Australia?

You can’t actually view the Tesla Solar Inverter page on the official Australia Tesla website yet (it just 404‘s) – but according to their press release “(the inverter) completes the Tesla home solar system”. You can use the American link which will show you the (fairly utilitarian) details they are currently providing.

So you still can’t get this in Australia but we’ll keep you posted as soon as there’s any information. Tesla are very US focused so hopefully they bring the party to Australia sooner rather than later! And on that note, no news yet on the Tesla Powerwall 3 but we’re still waiting with bated breath. The site for the new inverter notes that it’s “built on Powerwall 2 technology for exceptional efficiency and reliability” so maybe we are a ways off yet?

Tesla Solar Inverter Specifications

The product 660mm high and 411mm wide. It’s available in two configurations, depending on how many solar panels you have on your roof – 3.8 kW and 7.8 kW.

The new inverter will be compatible with ‘standard’ solar panels as well as integrating seamlessly with the Tesla Solar Roof.

A warranty is available for the product and will be a strangely chosen 12.5 years. Haven’t seen a half year in a warranty in a while!

The product will also feature Wi-Fi, Ethernet and cellular connectivity with OTA (over the air) updates, and has been “designed to integrate with Tesla Powerwall and Tesla app”. Matching inverters, batteries and panels can be quite the mission if you’re looking to get the best result so it’s nice to see Tesla working hard to offer more of a ‘full stack’ approach to renewable energy (not just solar power either!).

Lastly, it has 4 MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) controllers. Most inverters have two so it’ll be interesting to see what we’re in for with the Tesla Solar Home lineup!

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Berri Solar Farm to be sold by the Riverland Council

The $25m Berri Solar Farm is going to be sold by the Riverland council for a firm to take over the development due to a customer pulling out of a PPA (Power Purchasing Agreement).

Berri Solar Farm to be sold by the Riverland Council

Chief Executive of Berri Barmera, Karyn Burton, said the catalyst for the decision to sell the Berri solar farm was due to a major client pulling out of a Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA) due to being sold to another company. 

The farm was approved by the Riverland Regional Development Assessment Panel back in 2017 but construction work hasn’t commenced yet. The council also won a $5 million grant as part of the State Local Government Infrastructure Partnership for the build.

“That was in the mix until June, when they advised (the) council they were going to seek opportunities elsewhere,” Ms Burton said.

“They’d been taken over by a global group and they were looking at their energy needs on a global basis.”

Ms Burton continued to discuss the way the government would like to look at the 

“We’ll sell it as a shovel-ready project,” Ms Burton said.

“Councils are quite risk adverse – they won’t risk going into the market where prices for power fluctuate, not giving us that assurance that we’d cover that as a stand-alone business.

“Whereas there are other solar players out there would be able to do that.”

Mayor Peter Hunt said “despite putting in our best effort to deliver a great project for Council, Accolade Wines and the Community, the timing and justification to continue with the project was simply not right in the end. Accolade Wines was bought by new owners in 2018 and in terms of energy procurement and use, they are considering a number of options. We needed an answer and in this case they made it clear that they could not commit further to the project. The upside is we have fielded several enquiries to buy the project including lease rights to the old Racecourse site. We have expert advice that the project has strong commercial value and that is why we have decided to call for expressions of interest from parties seeking to buy the intellectual property and development rights.”

The council has called for expressions of interest in parties interested in buying the project, until September 27.

Read the article on the Berri Barmera Council website ‘Solar Farm Project to be Sold‘ if you’d like to learn more about the next steps for the Berri Solar Farm. 

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Silent 55 – Solar Powered Catamaran

The Silent 55 solar powered catamaran has been announced and will debut at the 2019 Cannes Yachting Festival. The 2019 model is twice as powerful as the 2018 model with the Austrian manufacturer advising that one has already been build and 3 more are on order.

Silent 55 – Solar Powered Catamaran

“Our best-selling 16.7m innovative solar electric catamaran has been upgraded and become even better than it used to be,” says Michael Köhler, Silent-Yachts founder and CEO. “We did these updates and changes because we always try to improve and to install the best and latest technology available to satisfy our clients. We have built one new Silent 55 already and we’ve got three more orders for this model, which shows that we’re heading in the right direction.”

The Silent 55 includes 30 high-efficiency solar panels rated for approximately 10 kilowatt-peak. The catamaran uses MPPT (maximum power point tracking ) solar charge regulators and lithium batteries, allowing it to cruise through all the way through the evening (i.e. when the sun’s not shining) as well. 

A 15-kVA inverter provides the required power for household appliances. The electrical system also powers an aft swim platform and a 1,500-watt electric windlass. There is also a generator on board in case you run out of solar power. 

According to Robb Report the base price of the Silent 55 is €1.4m. Interested? Go check it out at the Cannes Yachting Festival or click here to learn more about the solar catamaran on the Silent Yachts website. And take me for a spin, please! 

Silent 55 Specifications

Length overall 16,70 m (54.8‘)
Beam overall 8,46 (27.7‘)
Draft 1,20 m (3.9‘)
Light displacement 19 tons
Water 500 – 1.000 L
Waste-Water 2 x 500 L
Fuel 500 – 1.600 L
Solar Panels 10 kWp
E-Motors 2 x 30 kW / 2 x 250 kW
Generator 22 kW / 100 kW
Battery Capacity 120 kWh
Cruising Speed 6 – 8 kt / 12 – 15 kt
Top Speed approx. 12 kt / 20 kt
CE Certification CE-A
Range Trans-Ocean

 

Silent 55 the Solar Powered Catamaran (source: RobbReport.com via Silent-Yachts)
Silent 55 the Solar Powered Catamaran (source: RobbReport.com via Silent-Yachts)

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