Australia was one of the world's hot spots for research and
development in the solar photovoltaic industry, which is causing a
revolution in the global energy sector, but it does not have much
to show for it in the global manufacturing stakes.
A small Brisbane-based company, Redflow, is determined that that
does not happen in the next disruptive energy technology, battery
Redflow, based in the inner city suburb of Redlands, has had an
up and down experience since its unique bromine flow batteries were
developed by the Winter brothers, Ted and Sam, at the University of
The company now has a bold plan, and equally bold leadership,
since Australian IT guru and multi-millionaire Simon Hackett became
the major shareholder earlier this year, and more recently
Hackett says the battery storage industry is looking a lot like
the internet industry in which he was a pioneer in the late
"It's incredibly like the same thing. It has the same
sense that we are at the start of something interesting, where
everything is a little too expensive but the early adopters
don't care because they know they are changing the
Hackett's focus is how to use energy storage in a smart and
innovative way, which is why he is putting the experts at his IT
firm, Base64, to add the "smarts" that will make
Redflow's flow batteries easy to use in the mass market.
That will put Redflow up in competition with some major
international brands, including Tesla, which is releasing its
battery storage system, the Powerwall, into the Australian market
later this year.
It's ironic for Hackett, because he is Australia's
number one fan of the Tesla brand, at least as it pertains to
electric vehicles. He owns five of them, and has an order for
another two. He was the first recipient in Australia of the Tesla
Roadster and the Model S, and will get the first Model X next
But Hackett is convinced that zinc bromine flow batteries will
be able to match, and even outperform the Tesla batteries and other
lithium ion products.
Recent testing shows that the Redflow batteries do something
that lithium ion batteries don't like: they thrive on full
lgdischarge. At the moment – over a 10 year period –
Redflow estimates the cost of production at around 20c/kWh.
Given that Redflow batteries may be able to huge number of
cycles, over and above the 3,000 already documented, those cost
estimates will likely fall quickly, meaning that the combination of
solar and storage will compete soon enough with the grid.
"We are at the start of that 10 year cycle," says
Hackett. "I reckon that within 10 years, energy storage will
become a routine design choice. It's not an experiment.. We are
at the cusp of that becoming routine and normal and incredible
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