Simon Hackett uses big Redflow battery system to create microgrid at Tassie farm

Redflow ZBM2 zinc-bromine flow batteries deployed at The Vale

A solar and storage microgrid based around a 280kWh zinc-bromine flow battery system by Australian company Redflow has been completed at a Tasmanian sheep and cattle farm, where it is expected to “eliminate” grid electricity costs for the property.

The 73-hectare farm, called The Vale, is owned by Simon Hackett, who is a former CEO of Redflow and remains the company’s largest shareholder, as well as its Systems Integration Architect, or chief software boffin.

Hackett – who also has a solar and ZMB2 battery system at his Adelaide office – decided in 2019 to install The Vale energy system[1], including a 100kW ground-mounted PV array to create energy independence for the farm.

The now completed energy system[2] comprises high-capacity, three-phase power wiring and a multi-gigabit speed single-mode optic fibre network ring, run underground to all buildings on the property. It uses a cluster of 12 x 15KVA Victron Quattro inverter/chargers and control systems that can deliver a peak energy output of 180KVA.

Hackett said the 28-battery energy storage system would make extensive use of the Redflow Standby Power System (SPS) mode, allowing batteries to be fully charged on good solar days and then ‘hibernated’ with zero self-discharge – a “unique strength” of Redflow’s ZBM2 batteries.

Sheep grazing among solar arrays deployed at The Vale in Tasmania

During extended overcast periods, the SPS batteries would then be activated to support site loads instead of using the grid, allowing the site to maximise both energy storage quantity and also energy storage efficiency.

“This has been a huge project, with an extensive design and deployment effort by DMS Energy working closely with me, to create a truly farm-wide sustainable energy system,” Hackett said in a statement this week.

“We expect this system to be self-sufficient, with a net negative energy bill. From now on, the Tasmanian power grid is merely a backup energy source for The Vale.”

All told, the system is expected to generate more energy than the property requires during most of the year, exporting surplus electricity to the local grid.

In the future, however, Hackett plans to expand the solar component to 200kW to support the farm’s transition to electric vehicles, of which Hackett is also a huge supporter and early adopter.

“We already have a Tesla Model S at the property and we plan to progressively replace our existing fleet of diesel farm ATVs, utes, and tractors with electric versions as soon they become available,” Hackett said back in 2019.

The Vale’s energy storage system is the latest successful rural deployment of Redflow batteries, including a massive 60-battery Redflow-based system installed for a WA stockfeed supply company[3] to cut its fuel and energy costs by 80 per cent.

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