New battery tech being tested in regional WA microgrids

Large single Redflow zinc bromine battery installed on concrete slab with blue sky in background (battery microgrid)
Redflow zinc bromine battery

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $2.85 million in funding under the Regional Microgrids Program to trial two novel long duration energy storage technologies at remote microgrids in Western Australia.

Western Australia’s regional energy provider, Horizon Power, will install and trial Redflow’s zinc bromine flow battery (100kW/400kWh) and BASF’s sodium sulphur battery (250kW/1,450kWh) on Western Australian microgrids in Nullagine and Carnarvon, respectively.

Related article: Microgrids for three towns part of Powercor resilience plan

The 250kW/1.45MWh BASF sodium sulphur (NAS) battery will be supplied and installed by Allset Energy, in Carnarvon.

The project will test each battery’s ability to shift rooftop solar electricity produced in the middle of the day to evening hours as well as demonstrate hybrid operability alongside lithium-ion batteries for optimal network service delivery.

Horizon Power has a number of lithium-ion batteries installed on networks it operates, however, has identified a need for longer duration energy storage technologies to be included in its portfolio.

The ability of zinc bromine flow batteries and sodium sulphur batteries to withstand higher ambient temperatures over long periods, whilst maintaining reliable power with a lower degradation, is particularly important in remote community microgrids and is a distinct advantage over current lithium-ion technology.

If the trial is successful, Horizon Power’s $5.7 million project will validate the technical viability of zinc bromine and sodium sulphur batteries in remote microgrids, reduce the risk in future deployments, and help to accelerate the rollout of Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems (DERMS) across Horizon Power’s 34 service areas. The BASF battery will also be the first of its kind connected to a regulated network and a DERMS platform in Australia.

Horizon Power CEO Stephanie Unwin said, “We are really excited about these ground-breaking trials which will support the Australian and State Government’s carbon emissions reduction targets, while making renewables more accessible for our regional and remote customers.

“Our Long Duration Energy Storage (LDES) trials will provide our project team with key learnings around how the technology can be effectively integrated into our network and test their temperature resilience in regions with extreme weather conditions.

“Horizon Power was an early adopter in battery energy storage, and for the past 15 years we have been exploring how energy storage can best be used to promote increased uptake of renewable energy across regional WA.

Related article: Redflow and Ameresco to deploy microgrid for US Defense

“Last year, we became the first Australian energy utility to purchase a Vanadium Redox Flow Battery (VRFB), for a long-duration energy storage pilot in Kununurra. The battery, which arrived in Perth earlier this year, will be deployed to site in coming months.

“Our latest trials will continue our exploration of LDES technologies which are suitable for withstanding the extreme temperatures of our regions, providing valuable insights which will support with future deployment of the batteries in our regions.”

Previous articleZEN secures funds to start Templers Battery in SA
Next articleLochard to study underground hydrogen storage in Victoria