Wednesday, 11 July 2018 21:20

Redflow batteries to power up Fiji digital TV network

By
Hitech Solutions CTO Derek Gaeth Hitech Solutions CTO Derek Gaeth

Australian battery company Redflow has shipped zinc-bromine flow batteries made at its new factory in Thailand to Fiji for use in a local digital television network.

Redflow says the Fiji shipment is its largest-ever order and follows New Zealand-based telecommunications infrastructure specialist Hitech Solutions’ choice of its ZBM2 batteries to provide energy storage for the Fiji digital television network.

The publicly listed Redflow (ASX:RFX) announced earlier this week it had started manufacturing batteries at the new Thai factory with the capacity to consistently produce as many as 90 ZBM2 batteries per month to meet customer demand.

Hitech Solutions ordered US$1.2 million worth of Redflow ZBM2 batteries to store and supply renewable energy to power the Fijian digital TV network. The company, which has operated a five-battery trial site in Fiji during the past year, intends to scale up its deployment of solar panels and Redflow batteries during the next six months.

Redflow says Hitech will install from five to 60 ZBM2 batteries at more than 10 sites in Fiji, many of which are on hills with no access to the country’s electricity grid.

Unveiled in December last year, the digital TV network will provide Fijians, even in the most remote parts of the country, with access to eight free-to-air television channels through a set top box, plus an option for catch-up TV.

And digital television will also provide a platform to telecast important messages to people in maritime zones and rural areas in times of disaster, such as cyclones.

Redflow says Hitech Solutions selected its zinc-bromine flow batteries for the challenging project because of their robustness, long life, safety, temperature tolerance and straightforward recycling process.

And Redflow says Hitech saved 40 tonnes of battery weight by choosing its batteries over lead-acid batteries – the typical choice for telecommunication network energy storage.

Hitech Solutions chief technology officer Derek Gaeth said Redflow batteries offered many benefits for the Fijian deployment. “The primary need was for a robust design with a long service life,” he said.

“We considered both lithium and lead-acid based batteries, but many sites are in remote locations with difficult access. Lead-acid has too short a service life and is very bulky in the limited space we have. We save 40 tonnes of battery weight by choosing Redflow’s zinc-bromine flow batteries.

“Lithium performance degrades over time and would struggle with the heat and our desire to run batteries without any cooling, even on days that are hotter than 30 degrees Celsius. Redflow batteries can use fresh unfiltered air for cooling, even where it is likely to have a high salt content, without experiencing corrosion and also present no fire risk through ‘thermal runaway’.

“In addition, we believe there are still questions about the safe disposal and recycling of lithium batteries at their end of life, which could be a particular issue in the Pacific Islands where recycling costs can be very high. Redflow zinc-bromine flow batteries are made of components that are easily recycled or reused, which means this is not a problem.”

Gaeth said that, in addition, Hitech believe there are still questions about the safe disposal and recycling of lithium batteries at their end of life, “which could be a particular issue in the Pacific Islands where recycling costs can be very high”.

“Redflow zinc-bromine flow batteries are made of components that are easily recycled or reused, which means this is not a problem,” he added.

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Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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