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Solar panels at Kalyakool Farm supply 14 kWh of energy for storage by Redflow batteries
Solar panels at Kalyakool Farm supply 14 kWh of energy for storage by Redflow batteries

After losing power as the night horizon glowed orange with bushfires last summer, WA orchardists Jeff and Kerry Murray installed Redflow batteries to take their property off-grid and make it energy-independent year-round.

Power outages have plagued the Murrays’ farm - called Kalyakool, a Noongah word meaning “forever more” – since they bought the 34-hectare property near Gingin, 90km north of Perth, in 1994.

Mr Murray said the threat from the December bushfire was “the last straw”. “Our water comes from two bores, so without power, we can’t get any water,” he said. “The summer fire didn’t get to us, but it impinged on us through the loss of power for a whole day, which was followed by multiple outages as they brought it back on. If fire does reach us, we need energy to run the pumps to defend our property, which is why the bushfire was the last straw for us.”

Solar panels installed at Yallalong Station in remote WASolar panels installed at Yallalong Station in remote WAYallalong Station, a 348,000-hectare cattle property 650km north of Perth, has deployed a Redflow battery-based energy storage system to boost its energy independence and save thousands a year in diesel costs.

The cattle station, in the dry Murchison region northeast of Geraldton, can swelter for months in summer temperatures higher than 40 degrees Celsius - sometimes as high as 48 degrees Celsius.

Yallalong Station owner Lyndon Brown said a 24-hour power supply was essential to attract staff to work at this remote location. “If you want people to live out there in those isolated places, you do need 24-hour power to run all your fridges, air-conditioning and comforts of life that they expect,” he said.

Simon Hackett (left) with Jorg Hacker and an ARA planeSimon Hackett (left) with Jorg Hacker and an ARA plane
"“In many cases, remote sensing data taken from fire-affected areas disappears into a black hole"

Adelaide-based Airborne Research Australia is creating free 3D high-resolution maps of devastation caused by fires in the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island to help communities recover and reduce future fire risks.

The maps, which contain unprecedented detail and are available from the Airborne Research Australia (ARA) website, are intended to assist communities, emergency services agencies and researchers to plan recovery from SA’s summer infernos, to better understand fire behaviour and develop future fire defence strategies.

ARA collects data for these high-resolution maps from low, slow flights by crewed motorgliders equipped with LIDAR *, hyperspectral sensors ** and high-resolution RGB cameras ***. ARA renders this mapping data in three dimensions (3D) and animates it as flythroughs to simplify viewing.  Click here for an example, which was compiled using sophisticated software donated to this ARA project by Veesus Ltd in the UK.

ARA founder and Chief Scientist Jorg Hacker, who is also Professor Emeritus at Flinders University, said this high-resolution mapping data would help plan for community recovery and future fire prevention. “In many cases, remote sensing data taken from fire-affected areas disappears into a black hole, so the general public either never sees it or sees only a down-sampled low-resolution version,” he said.

Redflow Limited Managing Director and CEO Tim Harris

The New Zealand Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) has chosen Redflow zinc-bromine flow batteries to store energy in off-grid telecommunication sites in remote rural locations. Commercial negotiations to establish a direct relationship between RCG and Redflow to purchase batteries are now underway.

The RCG was established by the New Zealand Government in 2017 as an independent entity to build, operate and maintain a new open access network. The RCG will build over 400 new cell sites in rural locations to extend mobile and wireless broadband coverage to more than 34,000 rural homes and businesses, provide mobile coverage to a further 1000 kilometres of state highways and provide connectivity to more than 100 top New Zealand tourist destinations by December 2022. The new cell sites will be a combination of both off-grid and on-grid locations.

This critical infrastructure project is funded by the government’s Telecommunications Development Levy and an extra $75M from the three mobile network operators, Spark, Vodafone and 2Degrees.

RCG’s off-grid cell sites will meet their energy needs through a combination of PV solar panels, Redflow batteries and a backup generator. It is anticipated that the first site, which will use eight Redflow batteries, will be installed by the end of December 2019.