The Queensland-based flow battery company Redflow has ordered a 30 kWh zinc-bromine flow battery for the Brisbane City Council.
Brisbane City Council has decided to install a Redflow battery to improve energy resilience at the Willawong Animal Rehoming Center in Brisbane’s south.
The 30kWh zinc-bromine flow battery project was commissioned with Redflow’s new integration partner, Bright Spark Group, and includes two Deye hybrid inverters to enable future additions to the solar system.
The Willawong Animal Rehoming Center site is the first in Brisbane City Council’s wider plan to improve resilience at government sites across the city, dubbed the ‘Better Brisbane Proposals’ initiative. The Redflow battery system was financed through the program.
The Willawong Animal Rehoming Center was chosen as the initial site due to its frequent power outages, which affected the storage of vaccines and medicines.
Flow battery overview
Flow batteries are inherently a different beast than the mainstream lithium-ion batteries that are the domain of giants like Tesla. Lithium-ion batteries are semiconductor batteries that store energy in metal. Flow batteries, on the other hand, store energy in electrolyte liquids. They usually have two tanks, one with a positively charged anode and the other with a negatively charged cathode, separated by a membrane.
The use of liquids allows flow batteries to produce electric currents without degradation, which gives the batteries a longer life and enables them to be stored longer compared to lithium-ion batteries. Flow batteries can also be completely disassembled without damage, and are easily scalable – can be connected to each other to increase capacity.
Flow batteries are also suitable for recycling, which is the CEO and CEO of Redflow Tim Harris thinks becomes increasingly important to Redflow’s overall offering – especially as only 2% of Australia’s lithium-ion battery waste is currently recycled.
Pitfall of Flow batteries? Size. Liquid containers can naturally only be made so small. This is part of the reason why lithium-ion batteries have been out of the gate much faster – we’ve needed small, high-power batteries for far longer than we’ve had utility batteries. Despite the fact that lithium-ion batteries are arguably less suitable for large-scale applications, they have benefited enormously from their ubiquity and visibility, having been used for decades in our phones, laptop chargers and now in our electric cars.
After years of predictions about the dawn of the age of flow batteries, it looks like the decades-old technology has finally captured a portion of the storage market. Last year, Redflow expanded for the US market and has integrated its systems into a wide range inverters.
There are a number of flow battery companies and projects underway in Australia, including Energy Storage Industries factory in Maryborough, Queensland, where it assembles iron flow batteries from its “deep tech partner” ESS Inc. Sydney startup Gelionand VSUN EnergyA subsidiary of the Perth-based mining company Australian Vanadium Limited (AVL), also aims to expand the production and deployment of flow batteries in Australia.