Redflow Limited, a publicly-listed Australian company (ASX: RFX), produces small 10kWh zinc-bromine flow batteries that tolerate daily hard work in harsh conditions. Marketed as ZCell and ZBM2, Redflow batteries are designed for high cycle-rate, long time-base stationary energy storage applications in the residential, commercial & industrial and telecommunications sectors, and are scalable from a single battery installation through to grid-scale deployments. Redflow batteries are sold, installed and maintained by an international network of energy system integrators. Redflow’s smart, self-protecting batteries offer unique advantages including secure remote management, 100 per cent daily depth of discharge, tolerance of high ambient temperatures, a simple recycling path, no propensity for thermal runaway and sustained energy delivery throughout their operating life.
Swansea University, a research-led British university, has purchased Redflow’s unique ZBM2 zinc-bromine flow battery technology as the energy storage backbone for its Active Building demonstrator -– an award-winning classroom that generates, stores and releases solar energy at the point of use.
The microgrid is built around 120 kWh of Redflow batteries and is supplied with building-integrated, thin-film photovoltaic solar panels, as well as a solar wall that supplies the warm air to a heat-pump for space and water heating. Since being built, the classroom has proven the Active Buildings concept by generating more energy than it has used over an annual cycle, and during high solar summer months, the system will return power to the local electricity grid.
Redflow’s small 10 kWh flow battery units provided the only commercially available flow battery energy storage system that allowed accurate sizing for the 120 kWh system. Additionally, the Redflow battery operates “out of the box” with the Victron inverters and controllers that provide the power conversion for the Swansea University minigrid.
Tom Griffiths, Technology Transfer Fellow (Smart Systems), said Swansea selected the Redflow technology because of its ability to deliver 100% of the rated system energy every day, without degradation in capacity over a long – 10 year – life. “These characteristics were crucial considerations for us, and our application requires battery discharge duration of 4-8 hours depending on the time of year, making Redflow’s flow battery the ideal fit for our requirements in comparison to more conventional lead-acid or lithium alternatives.”
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.”
Yallalong 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.