Australian energy storage company Redflow Limited has received an order to supply five zinc-bromine flow batteries for a pilot project to provide standby energy storage for mobile phone towers in South Africa.
This order will see Redflow provide the project with batteries for five identified sites with the first batteries to be deployed in November. The project will see Redflow’s zinc-bromine flow batteries provide energy storage for the mobile phone towers, operated by one of South Africa’s leading telcos. The towers will be owned by a local company, supported by the South African Government’s Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) affirmative action agenda.
The sale was made through Redflow’s long-term South African partner, Specialized Solar Systems (SSS), which has formed a joint venture company with specialist telco supplier Amber Energy. Called SSS Gauteng, the new company will deliver the energy storage and telecommunications skills to deploy the batteries on remote mobile phone towers.
Redflow has worked with SSS to enable its batteries to operate in Standby Power System (SPS) mode. In this newly created operating mode, Redflow batteries can be charged and then placed in a dormant state, with no self-discharge, until a power outage. When energy is required, the battery can boot up to full operational status in a similar timeframe to a standby generator – with no internal combustion engine and no fuel storage required on the site.
Redflow Managing Director and CEO Tim Harris said this sale created a significant opportunity for the company. “The Standby Power System, which Redflow has developed with our partners, will help open the door for access to other cellphone network operators in Africa and internationally,” he said.
“While the size of the contract is not financially material, this sale provides a pleasing external validation of demand for our batteries from the telecommunications market that Redflow is targeting.”
SSS CEO Peter Bergs said Redflow’s zinc-bromine flow batteries were ideally suited to provide energy storage for mobile phone towers, often located in remote locations. “Redflow’s batteries can work hard, day in and day out, without degrading over their lifetime and they can also tolerate hot climates, which are common in South Africa,” he said.
“Another big benefit of Redflow batteries is their size, which will discourage theft, an endemic problem with traditional batteries, which in some regions can result in an expected ‘battery life’ is as short as 31 days before they are stolen. By replacing the need for a conventional standby generator, Redflow’s Standby Power System avoids the common risk of theft from fuel tanks. It also removes the ongoing operational expense required to maintain diesel generator engines in remote sites.”
Redflow has an established market for its zinc-bromine flow batteries in South Africa, which are already used by customers in manufacturing, such as Bosco Printed Circuits in Johannesburg, and local government, such as Mossel Bay Municipality in Southern Cape, as well as at residential sites.