Ecoult brings energy storage to India


Tuesday, 14 February, 2017

Energy storage business and CSIRO offshoot Ecoult have been selected by the Institute for Transformative Technologies (ITT) to help bring low-emissions power and energy storage to remote communities in India. Access to new and innovative solar-powered technologies for rural electrification is one of ITT’s core areas, and India is a primary country of focus.

Ecoult’s selection follows on from its development of off-grid, diesel-saving power systems in the telecoms sector in Australia, having in 2014 begun a project to reduce diesel use on an off-grid telecommunication base station (responsible for providing phone reception) south of Sydney. In remote areas, bases stations may run for 24 hours a day on diesel power.

Even on the forested site with no access to wind or solar, Ecoult succeeded in cutting the base station’s diesel usage by half, with the system paying for itself in 18 months. As noted by Ecoult CEO John Wood, “The outcome from this project was one of the key reasons why ITT chose Ecoult as one of their potential storage solutions, currently under field testing, for its major project on achieving universal electrification in India through solar mini-grids.”

There are millions of people who do not have access to reliable electricity, with hundreds of thousands of diesel-powered generators chugging away 24/7 — almost half a million in India alone. What these sites need is a battery that is fast charging and efficient, with an ideal mix of power and energy, close to zero maintenance, remote monitoring and control over the web, and the ability to run all day in high temperatures with minimal energy spent on cooling. CSIRO’s UltraBattery is said to be one of the only technologies in the world that ticks every box.

“The sites where UltraBattery can add economic, environmental and social value in India are not just about telecommunications,” said Wood. “They are sites that have the potential to bring education, health benefits, jobs and very-low-carbon electricity to some of the world’s most remote communities.” They are also sites where a solution can be easily realised with essentially the same collection of technologies that Ecoult installed on that small but vital pilot project in southern NSW.

Now Ecoult’s UltraFlex system is being tested as one of the possible storage technologies at ITT’s Indian test facility under the institute’s rural electrification program. The product is powered by the UltraBattery and was made possible thanks to $583,780 in support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

Wood said Ecoult is well positioned to take its experience out to new markets, improving power quality and electricity access without the fossil fuel overhead. He concluded, “The investments in projects here and the lessons learned from them pay off globally, taking Australian storage technology out into the planet’s most remote regions.”

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