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Redflow to offer small-scale flow battery in Australia from 2016

ASX-listed battery technology developer Reflow says it will deliver a plug and play version of its unique zinc bromide flow battery for households and small businesses by early 2016.

The Brisbane-based company, now chaired by Australian tech guru Simon Hackett, said on Wednesday that the batteries would be developed with a companion Battery Management System (BMS) that would simplify their installation and management, essentially making it a “plug and play” device, not unlike the Tesla Powerwall.

Development of the BMS would be guided by Hackett – the founder of Internode and a director of NBNco (he also owns a Tesla Model S) – with the first version of the device expected to hit the market early in the first quarter of 2016. (It will use inverter/charger products from European manufacturer, Victron Energy.)

Redflow’s ASX release also advised that the company had managed to cut the nominal levelised cost of energy (LCOE) of its zinc bromide batteries by more than 50 per cent – to around $US0.20c/kWh – as a result of outsourcing its manufacturing to Flextronics, and improved performance and reduced prices of the batteries’ core components.

Redflow, which has previously focused on commercial large-scale storage systems, said the new product offerings would expand the business into the right market at just the right time.

“The residential and SME markets are currently hot sectors for power storage which Redflow is well equipped to supply,” said Hackett, who has one of the company’s larger-scale systems installed at his renovated office complex in Adelaide.

“Redflow has received substantial direct interest from potential customers asking us to enter these market segments with our products. Our decision to build a ‘plug and play’ BMS unit will enable the simple integration of our batteries into multiple energy storage systems, allowing us to supply this much broader market.”

Top image: Redflow zinc-bromide battery

© 2015 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Comments

  1. RedFlow’s ZBM flow-batteries are a true breakthrough energy-storage technology which has been fully developed right here in Australia. The company has recently transferred all of the commercial scale manufacturing of their ZBM products to Flextronics in the USA and is right now in the process of scaling up volumes in preparation for their much wider marketing program to begin in 2016. Their ZBM batteries are rated for continuous 100% discharge capability and rated at 5kW and individually sized up to 11kWh capacity which makes them perfectly suited to the overnight power delivery requirements of domestic household applications.
    I will be lining up to buy one of these myself when they become more readily available and more reasonably priced thanks to their up-scaled production volumes in 2016.

  2. Will these batteries only be suitable for outdoor placement, next to the house in an enclosure etc or are they safe *under the bed* :)

    1. Hi Ma,

      Just had a chat with one of the sales folks from Redflow who said that while their batteries are not dangerous in any way during operation (they do not emit any fumes and are not combustible), you’d probably still want to install it in a garage, shed or basement (if you have any of these).

      There are two main reasons for this: 1) their batteries do take up a bit of space which could otherwise be devoted to living, and 2) should the battery be punctured, the contents are slightly acidic and can damage things in the home – and the fumes would be dangerous in an enclosed space.

      Hope this helps! We’ll have more info about Redflow’s batteries coming soon on our website.

  3. What is the projected cost for a residential battery? I realize that final pricing probably hasn’t been set but what is the ballpark – $1000, $50000, $100000????
    I have heard about the advantages of the flow battery but what are the disadvantages?? There must be some weaknesses (apart from cost).
    Thanks for your honesty in this answer.

    1. Hi Richard,

      A battery bank’s price is dependent on a number of factors, including its size and its chemistry. Pricing is typically spoken about in terms of dollars per kilowatt-hour ($/kWh). Although this isn’t necessarily the best metric for talking about battery pricing, it’s still useful to some degree. You’ll find batteries/energy storage systems ranging from around $600/kWh for lead acid to well over $3,000/kWh for more advanced technologies. We don’t know exactly what the cost of Redflow’s batteries will be, but the company claims that they are already competitive in certain areas of Australia. We’d recommend you keep an eye out for installers who offer them – or even ask an installer if they can supply one for you.

      Hope this helps!

        1. Hi Richard,

          Currently, price and weight are the main downsides for flow batteries. Prices do look set to come down in the near future, however.

          There’s also the issue of moving parts – flow batteries are more complicated than other types of batteries. They require mechanical pumps to operate and the fluid is continually being moved through them, leaving a potentially greater chance of malfunction.

          And while it may not be a disadvantage per se, far fewer flow batteries are in operation than lead acid or lithium-ion ones – meaning that customers may be slower to put their faith/investment money into them. This will change as they gradually become more commonplace, however.

  4. Dear Solar Choice:
    I’ve recently installed a solar system 3KW. The system consists of 12 panels of 250 watts each. I’ve wonder what would you recomend for storage batteries for my system?
    It looks like Teslas, are very good but they have a lot of delays. What about the Redflow, when they will be available?. So far i use my system only during the day.
    Thank you very much for your attention and advice
    Kind regards
    Dr F. Mino

    1. Hi Fuasto,

      As mentioned in my other response to you, you can get an AC-coupled battery storage system if you install a second inverter. Whether Redflow’s batteries would be best for you or some other battery would be better suited all depends on your circumstances and budget. You can give us a call on 1300 78 72 73 if you’d like to speak with us about your options in further detail.

    1. Hi Damian,

      The answer would depend on a few factors – including what the state of charge is when the sun goes down and how much electricity the household uses. A low-usage home could potentially rely on it for their electricity needs until all evening.

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