Solar and batteries slash costs at off-grid WA cattle station

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Life has changed at an off-grid cattle station in Western Australia since property owner Lyndon Brown decided to cut costs incurred by its polluting, old diesel generator with solar and storage. Today, Yallalong Station basks in energy independence, saving thousands a year in diesel costs.

The station has installed four Redflow ZCell zinc-bromine flow batteries and a 15kVA Victron Quattro inverter to store energy from 9.5 kWp solar array. The system, which can store as much as 40 kWh of energy, enables the cattle property to operate completely off-grid.

As well as providing reliable power, the $200,000 system, which will eventually include a 3 kWp wind turbine, will save Yallalong Station as much as $10,000 a year in diesel costs. It also avoids maintenance costs for the old diesel generator, which is now used just for backup.

Property owner Lyndon Brown said 24-hour power supply was essential to attract staff to work at this remote location. “If you want people to live out there in those isolated places, you do need 24-hour power to run all your fridges, air-conditioning and comforts of life that they expect,” he said.

Yallalong Station, a 348,000-hectare cattle property 650km north of Perth, is located 150km away from the nearest power grid in a region that can swelter for months in summer temperatures higher than 40 degrees Celsius. To run the property, Brown used to run his diesel generator two or three hours a day, but it was not affordable to keep it on 24 hours a day. “So, at the end of 2019, we put in a Redflow-based energy storage system and that has made all the difference,” he said.

Brown said that his technology choice was informed by the capabilities of zinc-bromine flow batteries which are better suited than lithium-ion batteries to provide sustained energy over long periods and tolerate daily hard work in harsh conditions, such as high temperatures.

“Redflow batteries can run at 50 degrees without any problems whereas with lithium batteries, you have to keep them in an airconditioned unit. When you’re off grid, having to air condition the room consumes a lot of the electricity that you want to save,” Brown said.

Redflow CEO Tim Harris said the Yallalong Station installation, along with a six-battery site at a pastoral property near Roma in central Queensland, highlighted the ability of Redflow batteries to provide off-grid energy storage for rural properties. “These deployments demonstrate the ability of our zinc-bromine flow batteries to store and supply energy in the most demanding environments,” he said.

Marketed as ZCell and ZBM2, Redflow 10 kWh zinc-bromine flow batteries are designed for high cycle-rate, long time-base stationary energy storage applications in the residential, commercial & industrial and telecommunications sectors, and are scalable from a single battery installation through to grid-scale deployments. 

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