State taps local companies to test out flow battery technology

Flow battery technology is under the microscope with the Queensland government committing $24 million (USD 15.83 million) to further evaluate and assess the capacity of the technology to support the next stage of the state’s battery capability and help meet its renewable energy targets.

Australian battery manufacturer Redflow has inked a deal that will see it supply 4 MWh of zinc-bromine flow battery energy storage to state-owned utility Energy Queensland while fellow Queensland-based renewables company Energy Storage Industries – Asia Pacific (ESI) has been tapped to supply a 5 MWh iron flow battery.

The projects build on Energy Queensland’s recent announcement that it will trial a vanadium flow battery in partnership with Brisbane-based Vecco Group and Japanese manufacturer Sumitomo Electric.

Energy Queensland Chief Engineer Peter Price said the flow batteries are an important part of the corporation’s battery program with the state government identifying large-scale energy storage as fundamental to the success of Queensland’s energy transition.

With the state targeting 80% renewable energy in the grid by 2035, batteries will play a key role in the success of Queensland’s renewable energy grid. A discussion paper prepared by consultancy Accenture highlights that the state’s energy storage demand could potentially reach 14 GWh by the end of the decade.

Price said the zinc-bromine and iron flow battery projects are a step towards diversifying Energy Queensland’s overall battery program away from the more commonly available lithium battery systems.

“These two projects will help our understanding of the benefits and possible challenges of distribution-connected energy storage,” he said.

“The batteries will be located close to areas of high solar penetration, while supporting the whole electricity supply chain, alongside other complementary solutions to maximise the growing uptake of renewable energy.”

“Exploring flow batteries will help us to understand the benefits of emerging battery storage technology.”

Redflow will supply a 4 MWh zinc-bromine flow battery energy storage system.

Image: Redflow

Redflow will receive $12 million of the funding package for a zinc-bromine flow battery to be deployed in the Ipswich region while a further $12 million will be invested in an iron flow battery from ESI, with the preferred site in the Wide Bay region.

Redflow Chief Executive and Managing Director Tim Harris said the Brisbane company has been working closely with Energy Queensland over the past few months to finalise the project which is expected to be delivered in the second quarter of 2024.

Harris said the government-backed project – which follows the recent announcement that Redflow will build one of the world’s largest zinc-based battery energy storage systems in the United States after signing a deal with the California Energy Commission – is a further demonstration of the market acceptance of zinc-bromine flow battery energy storage technology.

“The momentum towards a decarbonised grid and the energy storage market continue to rapidly accelerate, and this is one of many multi-MWh opportunities in our sales pipeline that continues to grow,” he said.

Stuart Parry, Managing Director of ESI, said he expects the pilot project will also help bring long-life iron-flow battery energy storage technology to scale.

The company is establishing a $70 million battery assembly facility in Maryborough with the centre expected to be operational in 2024. Parry said the company plans to expand its operations so that, by the end of 2026, it will be capable of delivering up to 400 MW of battery energy storage systems annually.

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