Swansea University deploys Redflow batteries for its renewable energy Active Building demonstrator


Swansea University’s Technology Transfer Fellow (Smart Systems) Tom Griffiths said the commissioning process was simple, despite a slight delay due to Covid-19. “We were very impressed with the set-up process for the Redflow batteries,” he said. “It was very simple, clear and logical and our local installation partner who had never worked with flow batteries before was easily able to support us in commissioning the system.”

With the 12 x ZBM2 zinc-bromine flow battery energy storage system now operational, Redflow and Swansea University are working to develop additional areas for cooperation and collaboration beyond this initial microgrid project.

In March this year, Swansea University, a research-led British university, purchased Redflow’s unique ZBM2 zinc-bromine flow battery technology as the energy storage backbone for its Active Building demonstrator -– an award-winning classroom that generates, stores and releases solar energy at the point of use.

The microgrid is built around 120 kWh of Redflow batteries and is supplied with building-integrated, thin-film photovoltaic solar panels, as well as a solar wall that supplies the warm air to a heat-pump for space and water heating.  Since being built, the classroom has proven the Active Buildings concept by generating more energy than it has used over an annual cycle, and during high solar summer months, the system will return power to the local electricity grid.

Redflow’s small 10 kWh flow battery units are the only commercially available flow battery energy storage system that allowed accurate sizing for the 120 kWh system. Additionally, the Redflow battery operates “out of the box” with the Victron inverters and controllers that provide the power conversion for the Swansea University minigrid.

Tom Griffiths said Swansea had selected the Redflow technology because of its ability to deliver 100 per cent of the rated system energy every day, without degradation in capacity over a long – 10 year – life. “These characteristics were crucial considerations for us, and our application requires battery discharge duration of 4-8 hours depending on the time of year, making Redflow’s flow battery the ideal fit for our requirements in comparison to more conventional lead-acid or lithium alternatives.”

Redflow CEO & Managing Director Tim Harris said “Redflow is delighted that Swansea University selected our technology. This project with its dual renewable generation sources will be a bench-mark for flow-battery minigrids. This is an emerging segment that Redflow is focussed upon, having recently deployed some PV-only minigrids in the agricultural sector in Australia.”