Interactive map highlights Australian lead-acid storage projects


The CBI, a U.S. research consortium has today published an interactive online map featuring well over 100 lead battery energy storage projects around the world, including 13 in Australia. Australian supplier Ecoult features in the CBI report, for its project at Melbourne’s Off the Grid Music Festival.

The highly organised CBI map provides a focused picture of just how, where and why lead battery storage is supporting utility and renewable energy systems in Australia, particularly solar PV. Of the 13 Australian projects that feature lead-acid uses cases include tariff management at Bundaberg Christian College in Ashfield, QLD; peak shaving at a high-end residential apartment development in the Sydney suburb of Balmoral, NSW; time shifting and energy storage on Lord Howe Island; provision of frequency regulation on King Island in the Bass Straight; and even a 100% renewable music festival, Melbourne’s Off the Grid, held between 2015-2017.

The map, published by CBI at the annual Energy Storage Association conference based in Phoenix, Arizona, provides a mixture of project summaries and case studies. The former are certainly not lacking in detail, providing each project’s technical parameters and a descriptive overview. The full case studies, amount to keenly in-depth appraisals available for download.

The CBI report highlights the role of Ecoult’s UltraFlex lead acid batteries at the Off the Grid Music Festival – a fully renewable Melbourne dance party: Music from the Sun. The Ecoult batteries deploy lead-acid cells with a lead-carbon ultracapacitors to deliver superior performance when compared to conventional lead-acid batteries. The technology was developed by the CSIRO.

The Off the Grid Festival used an Ecoult UltraFlex system to store the energy produced by the festival’s only generation source, a 7 kW PV array. Key to the festival’s success was the innovative mobility of the power and storage systems developed by Green Power Solutions (GPS), which was well suited for music festivals held in remote locations beyond the grid. “Events like Off the Grid,” writes Ecoult CEO John Wood, “make it clear that a power station in a shipping container can give you instant, clean, green power just about anywhere.”

However, like all maps, the CBI produced interactive map requires close attention, for it doesn’t purport to be anything more than it is, a map, and some details are inaccurate.

For instance, the information provided by the CBI map as to the ARENA-supported Lord Howe Island project is several years out of date. The program proposed to replace up to 70% of the island’s diesel-powered electricity generation with a combination of 450 kW of solar PV and 550 kW of wind, to be supplemented by 400 kW of lead battery storage. However, these figures are distorted by the fact that the Federal Government rejected the wind turbines in January 2017 because they would represent an eyesore on the World Heritage listed island. Thankfully, solar PV meets the government’s rigorous aesthetic demands, and Lord Howe Island today features the original 450 kW of solar PV, although the CIB map provides none of this nuance.

Of course, it is not the prerogative of the CBI to keep track of all such developments, as CBI Director Alistair Davidson notes: “The aim of this initiative is to highlight some of these installations and encourage companies to share other examples we can highlight demonstrating the variety of projects currently in place.” Even a rudimentary look at the map’s Australian nodes, or indeed a global perusal, demonstrates that the CBI have achieved their aim.

As pv magazine Australia reported in January of this year, Australia is fast becoming one of the world’s hottest market for residential batteries – although lithium-based applications appear to be far outstripping lead acid through the activities of suppliers LG Chem, sonnen, Eguana and BYD – amongst others.

Author: Blake Matich

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