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Wednesday, 24 May 2017 10:22

Redflow goes Dutch with European farm deployment

Redflow's Andrew Kempster with Dutch farmer Jan Borgman in front of barn covered with solar panels Redflow's Andrew Kempster with Dutch farmer Jan Borgman in front of barn covered with solar panels

Australian battery specialist Redflow has deployed its zinc-bromide flow batteries in a dairy farm in the Netherlands allowing the farm to produce solar energy that can support its milk production.

The project — with Dutch farmer Jan Borgman — is the first in the Netherlands for the Brisbane-based company and aims to store solar energy for the farm’s use with six 10 kilowatt hour (kWh) ZBM2 batteries.

Headed by Adelaide tech entrepreneur Simon Hackett, Redflow was proposed for the project — dubbed Photo Farmer — by ICL, a global producer of bromine and supplier of the advanced zinc-bromide electrolyte used in ZBM2 batteries because of the advantages over older battery types such as lithium and lead-acid.

Located at Vierakker in the eastern Netherlands, the 57.5-hectare family-owned farm stocks 110 dairy cows and, due to public importance, the European Union is co-financing the deployment, which Redflow says could “revolutionise” energy supply by supporting businesses to become energy independent.

Redflow global sales director Andrew Kempster, who is in the Netherlands for the project launch, says the Photon Farmer had produced energy with solar panels for several years.

“The battery project is seeking the best business model for future local sustainable energy production, including energy storage in a battery. Our zinc-bromine flow battery technology is well-suited for this project.”

Kemptser says a prime driver for the project is to enhance the ability of farms to produce energy from renewable sources, leveraging large roofs with room for solar panels and even available space for windmills.

According to Kempster, the Dutch energy system is based on large, central production facilities with many small users while renewable energy production typically occurs at distributed locations.

“Currently, energy is produced in line with demand, which is not possible with renewable energy. For example, a dairy farmer cannot choose to milk cows only when the sun shines or when the wind blows.

“Batteries solve this problem by storing surplus renewable energy. The Photon Farmer project aims to learn if the ZBM2, with its intelligent battery management system, can optimally match supply and demand.”

Kempster said the Redflow ZBM2 battery is sold and installed globally for use in small to large-scale telecommunications, industrial and commercial applications and is already in use in Austria, Germany, Portugal and Spain.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a 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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