Diverse battery technologies trialled in remote WA

Thursday, 28 March, 2024

Diverse battery technologies trialled in remote WA

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will supply $2.85 million in funding to trial two novel long-duration batteries at remote microgrids in Western Australia under the Regional Microgrids Program.

The batteries — Redflow’s zinc bromine flow battery (100 kW/400 kWh) and BASF’s sodium sulfur battery (250 kW/1450 kWh) — will be installed by WA’s regional energy provider Horizon Power on microgrids in Nullagine and Carnarvon, respectively.

While Horizon Power has a number of lithium-ion batteries installed on the networks it operates, it has identified a need for longer-duration energy storage technologies to be added to its portfolio.

“Renewable dispatchable technologies such as solar PV and wind combined with lithium-ion battery energy storage systems, and pumped hydro are well established; however, there are characteristics of each that may not be suited to all locations, particularly in locations with extreme heat,” said ARENA CEO Darren Miller.

“Horizon Power’s project, if proven successful, could see these innovative battery technologies become an important part of our energy mix in regional communities.”

Zinc bromine flow batteries and sodium sulfur batteries are able to withstand higher ambient temperatures over long periods while maintaining reliable power with a lower degradation. This is particularly important in remote community microgrids and presents a distinct advantage over current lithium-ion technology.

The trial will test each battery’s ability to shift rooftop solar electricity produced in the middle of the day to evening hours. It will also explore how hybrid operability alongside lithium-ion batteries can be implemented for optimal network service delivery.

If the trial is successful, Horizon Power’s $5.7 million project will validate the technical viability of zinc bromine and sodium sulfur batteries in remote microgrids, reduce the risk in future deployments and help to accelerate the rollout of distributed energy resource management systems (DERMS) across Horizon Power’s 34 service areas. The BASF battery will also be the first of its kind connected to a regulated network and a DERMS platform in Australia.

“We are really excited about these groundbreaking trials which will support Australia’s carbon emissions reduction targets, while making renewables more accessible for our regional and remote customers,” said Horizon Power CEO Stephanie Unwin.

“Horizon Power was an early adopter in battery energy storage, and for the past 15 years we have been exploring how energy storage can best be used to promote increased uptake of renewable energy across regional WA.

“Our latest trials will continue our exploration of long-duration energy storage (LDES) technologies which are suitable for withstanding the extreme temperatures of our regions, providing valuable insights which will support future deployment of the batteries in our regions.”

Image credit: iStock.com/Wirestock

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