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Sodium-ion battery pilot in Bondi could change the way we store energy

A new trial at Sydney Water’s Bondi sewage pumping station will soon be storing renewable energy through the use of sodium-ion batteries, a cheaper alternative to the traditional lithium-ion batteries in use around the world.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) today joined with project participants   to announce commissioning of the $10.6 million renewable energy generation system at the Bondi pumping station which features 6 kW of solar panels, an energy management system and a temporary lithium-ion battery pack.

Sydney Water will use lithium-ion batteries for 12 months to test the energy management system before transitioning to sodium-ion batteries as the first batches of batteries are received from industry partners in China.

The project has been led by energy storage researchers from the University of Wollongong (UOW) Institute for Superconducting and Electronic Materials (ISEM) in collaboration with Sydney Water and battery storage manufacturers in China.

Sodium-ion batteries have been developed to be comparable in performance to marketplace alternatives, as well as being cheaper, modular and expandable.

The Bondi pumping station was chosen due to the daily volume of wastewater it moves as well as proving the technology against highly intermittent and impulse-heavy loads.

The system will generate approximately 8,000 kWh of energy each year – more than the Bondi pumping station requires to power its own needs.

This pilot could be scaled up, as Sydney Water has a network of more than 780 sewage pumping stations.

On behalf of the Australian Government, ARENA previously announced $2.7 million in funding for the Smart Sodium Storage Project which will develop and demonstrate sodium-ion batteries in renewable energy storage applications.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said: “Part of ARENA’s role is to deliver secure and reliable electricity and battery technology will play a major role in allowing variable renewable energy to be dispatchable.”

“Thanks to the contribution of world-leading researchers from the University of Wollongong, these relatively inexpensive and reliable sodium-ion batteries aren’t too far off, potentially reducing our reliance on lithium.

“We’re always excited to support significant R&D which shows promising commercialisation prospects as the novel sodium-ion technology will assist in the faster uptake of renewable and innovative storage solutions for Australia,” Mr Miller said.

ISEM Director Professor Shi Xue Dou said the project was translating research outcomes into tangible impacts for society.

“Sodium-ion batteries are a potential game-changer because the materials are much more abundant than those for traditional lithium-ion batteries, reducing the cost of the raw materials as well as reducing reliance on scarce, expensive lithium.

“Critically, this project will deliver commercial-scale and ready-for-manufacture sodium-ion battery technology that allows lower-cost distributed renewable energy supply to become a reality.” Professor Dou said.

The smart sodium storage solution project will be instrumental in developing the entire supply chain including the product design, development and manufacturing process. The approach of piggybacking on established lithium-ion manufacturing and production processes is also a clever way of not only overcoming the difficulties of such a new technology but the approach will assist in bringing forward sodium-ions demonstration and wider use for storage in Australia and the world.

ARENA media contact:

0410 724 227 | media@arena.gov.au

Download this media release (PDF 127KB)

Solar rolling out in Northern Territory off-grid communities

Remote communities from the Tiwi Islands to the South Australian border are set to be connected to solar power as construction begins on the next phase of the $59 million Solar Energy Transformation Program (SETuP) project.

On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) previously announced $31.5 million in funding towards SETuP, jointly funded by the Northern Territory (NT) Government and managed by Power and Water Corporation (PWC).

Tranche Two, which is commencing construction this month and is expected to be completed by November this year, will see 5.6 MW of solar PV rolled out to a further 17 communities across the Territory from Finke near the South Australian border to the Tiwi Islands.

Solar PV will be integrated with diesel generators at 15 sites including a 1 MW solar system at the Tiwi Island community of Wurrumiyanga which will ultimately supply electricity to three communities on Bathurst and Melville Islands, via an interconnection project.

On completion of Tranche Two, the SETuP program will provide 10 MW of solar photovoltaic power into the energy mix of 28 remote off-grid communities across the NT.

Last year, Tranche One involved successfully integrating 3.325 MW of solar PV into diesel power systems in an initial 10 remote Indigenous communities.

In April, alongside Tranche One, Daly River also became the first Northern Territory remote community to pilot be partially powered by solar and battery, as a 2MWh lithium-ion battery with a 0.8 MW peak output was installed alongside 3,200 solar panels. Daly River, with 50% of its energy from solar, is a demonstration of what is possible for the other communities to achieve in coming years.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said Tranche Two would complete the roll out of this ambitious project to bring renewable energy to off grid and off shore communities.

“As the largest roll out of solar PV to remote communities, this is a significant achievement that is four years in the making and one that ARENA is extremely proud to be supporting,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“This project will reduce the reliance on diesel which is costly and subject to price volatility, creates job opportunities in remote communities and provides renewable energy which can be expanded in the future. Each community will be operationally and technically ready to plug in more solar and storage as costs of renewable technologies fall. Over time, this could lead to very high percentage renewable power, driven by the lower cost of renewable energy,” he said.

Power and Water Chief Executive Michael Thomson said: “This project demonstrates how delivery of cost-effective, renewable energy may be employed to provide reliable power to remote communities, where both energy demand and costs are high.”

“Reducing our reliance on diesel fuel in remote locations makes economic and environmental sense. As these hybrid systems combine existing Power and Water assets with clean technologies, we are able to ensure service remains consistent while making a 15 per cent saving on diesel fuel.”

ARENA media contact:

0410 724 227 | media@arena.gov.au

Download this media release (PDF 124KB)

 

Self-powering classrooms score top marks for sustainability

With financial assistance from the Australian Government via ARENA, the cutting-edge classrooms are being trialled at two schools in Sydney and Wollongong.

Manufactured by Sydney-based Hivve, the portable, modular buildings are highly energy efficient. They also incorporate solar panels and smart technology including real-time energy metering, CO2 monitoring, data capture and communications.

This allows schools to actively manage their own energy usage as well as indoor temperature and air quality, keeping the environment just right for learning.

Research has shown that well-designed classrooms improve students’ attention span, creativity, mood and performance, so the Hivve classroom is designed to optimise natural light, acoustics and layout.

POSITIVE ENERGY OUTPUT

ARENA is providing $368,000 to fund the 12-month trial of the new classrooms at St Christopher’s Catholic Primary School in Holsworthy, in south-western Sydney, and at Dapto High School near Wollongong, after a prototype proved successful in a controlled environment.

Regular school classrooms consume on average 3800 KWh a year. Hivve classrooms are designed to generate enough electricity to power themselves as well as enough surplus electricity for another two classrooms, an estimated net energy generation of 7600 KWh a year.

However, St Christopher’s Headmaster Tony Boyd says early indications from their classroom show it could far exceed this benchmark.

“The data summary for the week to Feb 5-11 shows our classroom generated 472.8kWh,” said Boyd. “That single classroom generated enough power to power 6.6 similar classrooms.”

POWERFUL LEARNING TOOL

Boyd said the Hivve classroom has so far been a hit with students on several levels.

“Normally no-one wants to be in the demountables,” said Boyd. “But even the classes in the bricks-and-mortar buildings want to be in the new classroom.”

“The kids love it because it’s a very comfortable, inviting space, but they are also really interested in monitoring how much electricity it is generating.”

“Our teachers are currently working with a science and technology curriculum consultant to write a study unit on power usage and generation, which we are basing on our sustainable classroom.”

Boyd said the advanced design of the building, with its emphasis on sustainable materials, thermal efficiency and ergonomics, was also inspiring students.

“A couple of our classes are using different aspects of it. For example our Year 5s are studying the design aspects of it. It’s good having it on site as a real example to collect data from.”

BREATH OF FRESH AIR

Boyd said the data on CO₂ levels had been a real eye-opener for him personally. Unlike temperature and light levels, it can be difficult to know air quality is poor until it’s too late. Hivve’s monitoring equipment informs teachers in real time that air quality is deteriorating and that fresh air needs to be introduced, either by simply opening the windows or via the heating/cooling system.

“As soon as one person walks in, you can see an instant impact on the CO₂ levels in the classroom, I was quite amazed,” says Boyd. “As a result of this I have been going around to all classrooms and reacquainting teachers with how their windows open so they are ensuring there is good cross-ventilation.”

HUGE POTENTIAL

Boyd said Sydney Catholic Schools’ Facilities Unit, responsible for the infrastructure of dozens of schools across the city, was following the trial closely, and it was raising general awareness of renewable power generation.

“For example, we have solar panels on our hall that were installed in 2008. As a result of this project, and in partnership with Hivve, we are looking at monitoring the output of those panels and comparing them to the ones on the new classroom, which are a couple of generations ahead and far more efficient. It may be that it is worth replacing them.”

“And it goes a bit wider than that, too — what are the possibilities for greater power generation for schools so we can cut our costs? We are all community-based organisations with very large roof areas, so we are ideally placed to be the next generation of power generators, housing lots of small, clean renewable power sources based on schools.”

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said there is enormous potential for Australia’s public schools to not only educate on renewables, but also reduce their reliance on the grid.

“This is a great way to get the next generation involved in renewables at an early age,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“The success of the Hivve project could lead to a nationwide adoption of the modular classrooms, reducing reliance on the grid and even providing a significant amount of electricity back to the National Electricity Market.”

Fore more information, visit hivve.com.au

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Swimming pools help keep energy grid cool over summer

So it’s no wonder that many city residents have been seeking refuge in their swimming pools.

But pool equipment is notoriously power-hungry, so a cool swim can come at a high price.

Residential swimming pools consume three to five megawatts of power depending on their size, often making up 30-40 percent of total household energy consumption.

To address this issue, ARENA has announced $2.5 million in funding for a pilot-scale demonstration in Sydney of an innovative technology that can slash the energy consumption of household swimming pools. The initiative is designed to cut usage by more than half, potentially saving pool owners an average of $1000 a year on bills, and reducing stress on the nation’s energy grid.

POOLED ENERGY

Sydney homeowners who decide to join the program will have their pool upgraded to a ‘smart pool’ via the installation of an intelligent controller. This device is connected to the Internet of Things and automatically manages the pool’s pump and the dispensing of chemicals.

The system is the brainchild of Sydney-based start-up Pooled Energy, which has invested some $15 million in its development.

Pooled Energy’s cloud-based control system collects data from sensors that monitor the pool’s water chemistry and temperature. That is then used in conjunction with information on the local weather, the state of the national electricity grid, and the current cost of power to implement an optimal pool management regime without any inconvenience to users.

Home owners pay an initial set-up fee to have the system installed and use Pooled Energy as their electricity retailer. The typical swimming pool’s energy consumption can be reduced by up to 50 to 70 percent, delivering a very attractive return on investment.

The system is also able to use weather forecasts to optimise solar panel use where these are installed on the home, running the pool from panel energy on sunny days.

A mobile app allows the homeowner to monitor the pool controller and override it if required, although this is rarely used, according to Pooled Energy, as the software handles the job so efficiently.

Residential swimming pools often make up 30-40 percent of total household energy consumption.

POWER BOOST FROM ARENA

Pooled Energy sought ARENA’s assistance to accelerate its roll-out by jointly funding a $5 million pilot project that will enable it to increase the number of installed pool sites from the current 400, to between 3000 and 5000.

The trial will also test the capability of Pooled Energy’s system to contribute to demand response during times of peak electricity consumption.

Demand response reduces unplanned power outages and unwanted price spikes by rewarding users who can temporarily shift some electricity use to off-peak periods when extra capacity is required on the electricity network.

Pooled Energy’s cloud-based network control system allows it to adjust energy use in response to signals from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and networks.

The Sydney pilot project forms part of a national demand response trial announced by ARENA and AEMO in 2017. This $35.7 million collaboration between the two agencies is designed to test proof-of-concept projects to support grid security and stability.

HUGE POTENTIAL

While Sydneysiders will be the first to benefit from the new technology, Pooled Energy chairman John Riedl says the aim is to eventually expand the service nationwide.

“There are more than 1.4 million swimming pools in Australia, and pools use approximately 10 per cent of the average demand on the residential grid,” said Riedl.

“If all the pools were on at once, they would use up to 3.7 gigawatts of energy—the equivalent of two Liddell-sized power stations running at capacity—so there is huge potential to better manage that energy use for the wider benefit.

“This technology also reduces a household’s total energy usage by up to 20 per cent, so customers also benefit by saving on their power bills, with an average saving of $1000 a year, based on our experience to date.”

HEAVY LOAD MAKES A SPLASH

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the pilot project will demonstrate Pooled Energy’s ability to use swimming pools to manage demand at peak times.

“Household swimming pools take up a very large load on the electricity network over the summer period and can contribute to increased power bills for families,” he said.

“Pooled Energy’s technology will now be able to test turning that load into a significant contribution in providing low-cost demand response in significant volume, alongside making significant productivity improvements.”

Once the technology is proven in Australia, it has the potential to make a splash worldwide. Pooled Energy hopes to next export the system to the United States, where there are more than 12 million residential swimming pools.

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Australia’s first hybrid wind and solar farm

The Gullen solar farm has over 42,000 solar panels working hard and will produce approximately 22,000 megawatt-hours of clean renewable energy each year. This is enough energy to supply approximately 3,100 NSW homes.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said this was an important milestone for co-located renewable energy services in Australia.

“The success of the Gullen Solar Farm has laid the groundwork for more solar plants to be built alongside wind farms in other areas of Australia and is also helping large-scale solar costs fall more quickly,”

“Wind farm owners across Australia can look to Gullen and see the benefits of adding solar plants such as reducing the environmental impact, increasing their renewable energy output,  and saving money on grid connection, approvals and site development costs by co-locating renewables.” Mr Frischknecht said.

The Gullen solar farm was turned on and producing electricity last year, but was only officially opened this week.

SEEING IS BELIEVING

If you are struggling to imagine what 73 wind turbines and 42,000 solar panels look like, why not come and see for yourself? You can get up close and personal to a wind turbine and a solar array.

Keeping the lights on: NSW’s ‘virtual power plant’ to curb summer blackouts

Thankfully, this has been the focus of large sectors of Australia’s innovative energy sector, with tech firm EnerNoc set to launch a 20-megawatt demand-response initiative in New South Wales.

Financed by ARENA and NSW Government, the ambitious and exciting project will provide a “virtual power plant’’ at a fraction of the cost of creating new supply of electricity in extreme weather conditions. This will be achieved by managing a ‘reserve’ of commercial and industrial businesses that agree to temporarily reduce or shift their power consumption, all in response to time-based rates or other forms of financial incentives.

EnerNOC has already recruited 16 of the approximately 20 individual businesses that will be involved in the NSW project. Firms such as paper manufacturers, metalworkers and glass manufacturers will all take part. The reserve will be delivered entirely by load curtailment (i.e. not by diesel generation) and by companies that are not already participating in any form of demand response.

ARENA is excited to lend a hand to this increasingly valuable resource option and its proven global use in quashing unplanned outages and smoothing unwanted price spikes. It gives consumers the opportunity to play a significant role in the operation of the electricity grid while earning incentives.

At present, the demand response solution has not been fully adopted in Australia, while in many other countries, up to 15 percent of peak electricity is supplied by demand response.

MARKET LEADER

Boston-based EnerNOC is the largest demand response provider in the US, operating some of the most widespread demand response networks in the world, including California, Japan and Taiwan. Using sophisticated energy intelligence software and automated hardware installed on participating business’ premises, EnerNOC is shining a light on traditional grid consumption.

The NSW reserve can be initiated remotely to respond within 10 minutes of a notification from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) that a spike in electricity demand is taking place–ensuring the public comfort during peak periods.

MINIMAL DISRUPTION

Matt Grover, EnerNOC‘s manager of market development, says demand reductions can be achieved without significant disruption to participating businesses.

“The loads involved in this program are pre-planned and are voluntarily curtailed for short periods of time,” says Grover.

“We choose parts of a facility that have tolerably low opportunity costs and can withstand brief interruptions. For example, you might have a manufacturer who is crushing to a stockpile and can drop their stockpile for a period of time. Or you may have a cold store that’s got some thermal storage and can do without electricity for a brief period of time.”

FULL LIST: THE EIGHT INNOVATORS BEHIND THE DEMAND RESPONSE PROGRAM

ARENA-AEMO COLLABORATION

Additional to the NSW project, EnerNOC will provide another 30MW of demand response through similar projects in Victoria and South Australia, freeing up a total of 50MW to address surges in peak national electricity demand.

The projects form part of the national demand response trial announced by ARENA and AEMO in October 2017 to provide a total of 200MW of emergency reserves for summer blackouts and other extreme demand peaks by 2020.

This $35.7 million collaboration between the two agencies is designed to test proof-of-concept projects to support grid security and stability. ARENA is committed to providing $28.6 million on behalf of the Australian Government, towards the initiative. $7.2 million of that is being matched by the NSW Government for NSW-based projects.

THOUSANDS OF HOUSEHOLDS TO PARTICIPATE

Altogether 10 pilot projects have been awarded funding under the initiative. Apart from large-scale industrial and commercial businesses, these initiatives will also recruit thousands of households to voluntarily sign up to participate in demand response in return for incentives. Through this, household participants will have optional user overrides.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht says the demand response scheme will explore various avenues to not only ease the strain on the electricity grid and prevent blackouts, but also to put money back into the pockets of Australian businesses and households. In turn, this will help to reduce energy costs and emissions—a win-win for all.

“We are looking to test a range of technologies and approaches to deliver the most cost-effective outcome,” Mr Frischknecht says.

“Through this initiative we’ve been able to build a virtual power plant the size of two of Tesla’s giant 100MW batteries (such as that recently installed in South Australia) in a matter of months for a fraction of the cost of building new supply.”

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UNTAPPED POTENTIAL

Managing director and CEO of AEMO Audrey Zibelman says demand response has untapped potential to help satisfy demand during extreme peaks in Australia, just as it does in other countries.

“These demand response projects will help manage spikes in peak demand in a cost-effective way using our existing electricity infrastructure and clever new technology,” Zibelman says.

“This will create the proof of concept for a new market mechanism that will ultimately be to the benefit of Australian consumers.”

Australians love to talk about the weather, but don’t want to have to suffer because of it, and demand response projects like these are positive steps toward a stable and reliable energy future.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? READ OUR DEMAND RESPONSE EXPLAINER

Flicking the switch: (Hybrid) energy comes to Flinders Island


It’s not a trick question but the answer might surprise: you build it elsewhere.

For its newest Hybrid Energy Hub on Flinders Island, Hydro Tasmania tried something new. Parts were assembled in factories on the Tasmanian mainland and shipped over the Bass Strait in containers, ready for installation and commissioning within a matter of months.

These “plug and play” components have been tasked a seemingly simple aim, to provide a reliable power supply to Flinders Island’s population of less than 1000 people.

But there’s more than just lessening the number of blackouts at play here. Hydro Tasmania’s newest microgrid project aims to displace diesel generation on the island by 60 percent through solar and wind power and battery storage. On some days when the wind blows strong or the sun is out in force, it’s hoped the island will run entirely on renewables.

It also builds on the work done in other remote locations at King Island, Rottnest Island and Coober Pedy by “modularising” the process of building such power systems in remote locations.

“It’s something that’s not been done before,” Hydro Tasmania’s chairman Grant Every-Burns said.

“It’s a Tasmanian innovation and it’s bringing clean energy to an isolated community. With that innovation comes less diesel usage, lower diesel fuel costs, lower emissions and the opportunity for Flinders Island to further boost its clean and sustainable reputation.”

ARENA contributed $5.5 million to the project as part of its CARRE program for encouraging renewables in regional Australia.

Chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said the agency was delighted to be involved in the latest iteration of Hydro Tasmania’s microgrid work.

Speaking at the launch of the hub on Flinders Island on December 11, he said there was “huge potential” for the technology to be used in other remote communities in Australia and overseas.

“Queensland alone has almost 50 remote communities that are quite similar in size and scale to Flinders Island,” he said.

“[There is opportunity in] The rest of the world, particularly the developing world, and power systems in not so remote areas that aren’t working well. So being able to bring in a reliable system that has a lot of renewables in it, that you can simply plug in together and get going quickly and easily, there’s huge potential there.”

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Hydro Tasmania’s manager of Hybrid Energy Operations, Ray Massie, agreed there were global applications for their work and data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development shows there is a need. It’s estimated that the more than 1 billion people still have limited or no access to reliable electricity, many of them in remote locations.

The Flinders Island Hybrid Energy Hub features a single 900 kW wind turbine and 200 kW solar array. The enabling systems include a 750 kW/300 kWh battery, 850 kVA flywheel, and 1.5 MW dynamic resistor.

The hub is on the site of an old diesel-powered plant and has been in operation since November. On the day of launch, it was headed towards 83 hours straight of 100 per cent renewable generation.

LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST, THE INNOVATORS, EPISODE 6 FROM FLINDERS ISLAND.

Spending on poles and wires pushes up your electricity bill. It doesn’t have to be that way

As a consumer, when you look at your monthly power bill, between 40 and 55 per cent of the total amount is made up of costs associated with the transmission and distribution network, according to the Australian Energy Market Commission.

And as the infrastructure in our cities and major markets ages that price is likely to increase.

Researchers at the University of Technology Sydney, led by Dr Chris Dunstan have argued that the current regulatory framework means that building new grid infrastructure is often more profitable for network businesses than introducing demand management solutions that encourage people to use less energy, even when doing so would reduce costs to consumers.

The ARENA-funded research from Dr Dunstan’s team has been instrumental in bringing about a change to market rules that will come into effect in 2019 and should encourage the use of demand management when it is the most suitable option.

READ MORE: DR CHRIS DUNSTAN EXPLAINS HIS RESEARCH

But a new project being funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) aims to demonstrate, ahead of those changes, a real-life implementation of that approach by fast-tracking the integration of rooftop solar and battery storage with the broader electricity market.

And a handful of Melbourne residents will be the guinea pigs leading the charge.

ARENA is providing $450,000 for United Energy to trial behind-the-meter residential solar and storage in Melbourne this summer.

The $1.23 million trial will demonstrate if harnessing the capability of residential solar and storage systems can defer the need for costly upgrades to the distribution network, leading to a better deal for consumers.

ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said that solar and storage technology could reduce the need to build new grid infrastructure.

“This trial will show how solar and storage could play a key role in future energy infrastructure, easing pressure on the distribution network and reducing network costs for consumers,” Mr Frischknecht said.

United Energy will install 4kW of solar and battery storage systems in 42 households across seven of the most constrained substations across United Energy’s network in Melbourne’s south eastern suburbs and the Mornington Peninsula.

These are substations where the ability to meet demand is most difficult to manage.

The systems will provide 4kW solar/13.2 kWh storage per site, creating 160kW solar and 554 kWh storage in total.

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HOW IT WORKS

At times of peak demand, when the substation is struggling to deliver the amount of electricity required, homes participating in the trial will automatically switch from receiving electricity from the grid to receiving it from their battery.

That should remove load from the substation and allow a greater balance between supply and demand, making for a more stable network.

While the ability of solar-linked battery storage to play this role should be relatively clearcut, network operators need to learn how such a system would work, get used to working with it and develop confidence that it can play a larger role in the future.

This trial will provide an opportunity to demonstrate that ability to meet network reliability requirements and help network operators to increase efficiency and reduce costs.

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United Energy’s Network Planning and Strategy Manager Rodney Bray said solar and battery storage technology would change the way utilities plan their grid infrastructure.

“As battery prices fall in the future, solar coupled with storage has the potential to become an economically feasible alternative to traditional, costly network augmentation,” he said.

The funding has been awarded under ARENA’s Advancing Renewables program which supports a
broad range of development, demonstration and pre-commercial deployment projects that can deliver affordable and reliable renewable energy for Australian families and businesses.

The UTS review found that incentives were needed in order to encourage network operators to look for demand side savings.The partnership between ARENA and United Energy is a practical example of a sustainable solution to maintain network reliability while reducing the need to invest in expensive new infrastructure.

READ MORE: UNITED ENERGY ARE PART OF ARENA’S DEMAND RESPONSE PROGRAM

Exciting times ahead for an Australian company that has definitely got legs

And that huge penetration has thrown up both challenges and opportunities. It means that Australian companies are well placed to take advantage of this moment with smart products and new technology born from creative R&D.

One such company making a splash with innovative thinking is Queensland-based Redback Technologies – a fast-growing start-up that has set as its goal helping to ensure that Australian households and businesses are one day entirely powered by renewables.

At ARENA WIRE we love celebrating the success of Australian companies who are leading the innovation push that is helping accelerate the shift to a renewable energy future.

Redback creates products that seamlessly integrate hardware and software to help consumers optimise the generation, management and storage of their own power.

“Our smart software uses machine learning to predict solar generation and customer usage, using inputs like weather data, and then makes intelligent decisions on how to use energy to achieve the best outcome for customers,” Redback founder and Managing Director Philip Livingston says.

“Its capabilities ensure effective management of energy at the customer’s site, resulting in lower bills and a reduction in fossil fuel reliance.”

HOW IT WORKS

The company’s flagship product, the Smart Hybrid System, consists of a 4.6kW inverter and battery enclosure which integrates with up to 9.6kWh’s of energy storage.

The system is enabled to provide an uninterrupted power supply and backup power all in one.

It uses machine learning to gather intelligence over time, learning from user habits as well as drawing data from external factors like weather to control energy use.

The Redback system also allows consumers to take charge of their energy usage.

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Solar panels generate their energy in the middle of the day but, for most people, peak consumption is before work in the morning and after work in the evening.

The system enables households to direct the energy generated in the middle of the day to their devices using a cloud-enabled intelligent system for analytics and remote control.

Redback’s system optimises self-consumption of solar-generated electricity so households can use their energy when they want – improving the pay-back from solar panels.

It works to drive down energy costs for households that install the technology.

Redback allows householders to optimise their solar and battery systems. IMAGE: Redback.

AND THAT’S NOT ALL

Redback’s software also enables thousands of systems to be aggregated to form a virtual power plant to provide grid services, demand response and to support the increased integration of renewables into the grid.

The devices will form a part of EnergyAustralia’s demand response project as part of ARENA and AEMO’s three-year $35.7 million demand response trial, which will be in place for the coming summer.

Redback has enjoyed a meteoric rise and the company is preparing to expand further, announcing plans to take on an additional 30 staff over the next six months as it beefs up its research and development capability.

That expansion has been made possible by an equity investment of $US 7 million from The Clean Energy Innovation Fund and Right Click Capital, which was announced last month.

The Innovation Fund draws on the combined skills and experience of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and ARENA.

The fund – which uses finance from the CEFC to invest in innovative clean energy companies and projects – recently committed US$5 million (approximately A$6.42 million) to Redback.

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Right Click Capital, an investment firm specialising in identifying, investing in and supporting high-growth Internet and technology businesses across Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia, has invested about $2.55 million.  

The firm will also contribute its specialist experience to support Redback’s expansion in Australia and the wider Asia-Pacific region.

Mr Livingston says the equity investment will allow the company to expand its research and development capabilities as well as accelerate development of its smart software suite.

“Redback is committed to innovation. Our vision is to ensure Australian households and businesses are entirely powered by renewables,” Mr Livingston said.

“This investment enables us to expand our expertise in data science, software development and engineering and electrical engineering so we can continue to develop our next-generation energy intelligence platform and devices.”

ARENA Chief Executive Ivor Frischknecht said the investment announced last month was a positive move for the innovation fund.

“We’re proud to get behind Australian innovation that helps Australian households and businesses make better use of their rooftop solar and battery storage, improve efficiency and save on energy costs,” he said.

Those comments were echoed by CEFC Chief Executive Ian Learmonth.

“We can lead the way in developing innovative technologies like Redback’s so households and businesses get the most benefit from these investments,” he  said.

The investment follows EnergyAustralia’s recent announcement that it will offer Redback’s inverter system to its 1.7 million customers in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, the ACT and South Australia.

$160 million 60 MW Kennedy Park wind, solar and battery hybrid reaches financial close in Queensland

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) today announced $18 million in funding for the $160 million Kennedy Park wind, solar and battery project, based in North Queensland.

The 60 megawatt (MW) project will consist of 43.2 MW of wind, 15 MW of solar PV, a 2 MW lithium ion battery and a synchronous condenser.

On behalf of the Australian Government, ARENA will provide $18 million recoupable grant for the project, a joint venture of Australian renewable energy developer Windlab and Eurus Energy.

In an ASX announcement today, Windlab announced the project had reached financial close. The project will also receive up to $93.5 million in debt finance from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

ARENA’s funding was originally committed in July 2016, but the project has subsequently been expanded in scope to overcome connection challenges.

Kennedy Park will now include nearly double the wind power originally intended through 12 3.6MW turbines.

On completion, the combined wind and solar farm will generate 210,000 megawatt hours of electricity per year – enough to power more than 35,000 average Australian homes.

The project will also improve stability and reliability of the grid for communities in North Queensland, through enabling technologies to control voltage and frequency.

The project is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2018.

This project will also lay the foundations for a planned much larger second phase, called ‘Big Kennedy’, a $2 billion 1200MW solar and wind farm, due to commence in 2019.

The project will demonstrate fully integrated wind, solar and batteries storage and will generate electricity closer to the point of use, relieving demand on long transmission lines from the southern parts of Queensland.

ARENA Chief Executive Officer Ivor Frischknecht said Kennedy Energy Park will be the first time a combined large scale solar, wind and battery farm will be connected to the grid.

“Kennedy enjoys one of the best and largest wind resources in Australia, alongside one of the best solar sites.
“By integrating wind, solar and batteries, this will be able to provide reliable and dispatchable electricity to North Queensland,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“This project will now also help improve the stability and reliability of the network in North Queensland,” he said.
“ARENA is excited to be funding such an ambitious project in what will be a significant step towards Queensland generating half its electricity from renewable energy.”

“We believe Kennedy Energy Park will demonstrate how effectively wind, solar and storage can be combined to provide low cost, reliable and clean energy for Australia’s future,” said Roger Price, Windlabs Executive Chairman and CEO.

“The broader adoption of projects like Kennedy can address the recommendations of the Finkel review and ensure that Australia can more than meet its Paris Commitments while putting downward pressure on energy prices,” Mr Price said.

ARENA media contact:

0410 724 227 | media@arena.gov.au

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