Tuesday, 18 October 2016 20:49

Redflow ZCell batteries perform well for Google man in SA blackout

Google's Alan Noble with the ZCell battery at his Willunga property Google's Alan Noble with the ZCell battery at his Willunga property

Battery company Reflow says its advanced ZCell batteries installed at a residential property in South Australia worked uninterrupted during the recent storm-caused power failure that blacked out the rest of the state.

Redflow’s ZCell batteries are installed at a 100-hectare Williunga property owned by the family of Alan Noble, engineering director for Google Australia and New Zealand, which Redflow says previously had mains power available in only one corner of the property.

The batteries were integrated with 12 Australian-made Tindo Solar panels and two Victron battery inverters by ZCell installer, Off-Grid Energy Australia.

Noble says he had installed the ZCells to provide him with flexibility, safety and affordability. “We wanted the flexibility to build anywhere on the site without having overhead power lines,” he said.

“Secondly, we have power when we need it. If there is a bushfire here, we can power our pumps properly whereas electricity distributor SA Power Networks has a policy of actually shedding power during high bushfire risk days, so precisely when you need the power, they shut it down. Without the ZCells, we’d be running around trying to fire up generators during hot days, which is not practical.

“Also, we want to make this property as automated as possible. I want it so we can move water automatically, based on the power to turn on pumps, to turn on sprinklers and turn on any fire defences. We can only do that if we have our own on-site power.

“Last, but not least, I really like the idea of being self-sufficient. The way I see it, grid power is getting more and more expensive, so this is an investment that in the long term is going to be worth it.”

Noble says he had chosen Redflow’s ZCell zinc-bromine flow batteries rather than lithium-based alternatives for two reasons.

“Firstly, they can cope with a high heat environment, which is not true of a lot of batteries. It does get hot here in the summer as the shed is not air-conditioned. Also, getting back to the earlier point about having power when you need it most, on really hot, high-risk bushfire days, I want to make sure my batteries are working on those extreme heat days.

“The other benefit is that you can have them just sitting there. Conventional batteries don't like being fully discharged. Longer term, that's less of an issue, but over the next couple of years while we're not living here full-time, it's nice to know that I'm not going to destroy the batteries if they're fully discharged. They’re also relatively compact batteries too, so they don't take up a lot of space.

“Also, ease of use is a nice factor with ZCell.  It's all very easily managed through the BMS (Battery Management System), both onsite and through the Internet. I'm looking forward to setting up my rules and having everything automated so it’s just working quite happily.

“Finally, I kinda like the idea of doing my part to support Redflow as an Australian company, which was also the reason I chose photovoltaics from Tindo Solar, which is based in Adelaide.”

Redflow chief executive Simon Hackett says: “We have worked very hard to reach this point.

“We look forward to seeing many more ZCell-based residential and commercial energy system installations deployed around Australia and, ultimately, around the world.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - an iTWire treasure is a mentor and coach who volunteers also a writer and much valued founding partner of iTWire. 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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