Redflow batteries to replace diesel generators in South Africa telco deal

Image: Redflow

Australian battery maker Redflow has been tapped to provide its zinc bromine flow batteries for leading South African mobile network provider, Mobax, as part of that company’s efforts to cut its use of costly and unreliable diesel generation.

Redflow said on Wednesday it had signed an agreement with Mobax South Australia to supply as many as 10 of its ZBM2 batteries – at its own cost, to start – for deployment across existing mobile sites.

The idea is to trial whether using the battery systems can provide standby energy, reduce the high cost of running diesel backup generators, and make a less attractive target for theft.

The deal follows the 2018 order from Moropa Site Solutions for 37 ZBM2 batteries to support its rollout of new sites across the operator’s South African mobile network.

“We’re very excited that one of Africa’s leading mobile operators is now looking at how to deploy Redflow’s ZBM2 batteries at their existing sites rather than just new towers,” said Redflow managing director and CEO Tim Harris.

“Our batteries have clearly demonstrated performance and cost savings benefits when compared with diesel-powered generators for backup power at off-grid sites.

“Our batteries can also help grid-connected towers in areas with unreliable power supply… a real and growing customer problem, so we are very positive about the opportunity this development may provide,” Harris said.

The deal is the third such supply agreement Redflow has made over the past week, including its securing of preferred supplier status with Soul Energy to provide batteries for a pipeline of infrastructure projects throughout Australasia.

In a statement on Tuesday, Redflow said the deal with Soul Energy – a NZ-based green infrastructure solutions company – could potentially require up to 200 of its zinc bromine flow batteries, starting with an initial small order as early as next month.

And as we reported here, Redflow also revealed over the weekend that it had cracked the China battery market, with a deal to supply 100kWh of its ZBM2 zinc bromine flow batteries for a solar and electric vehicle smart grid project.

The company has been going from strength to strength over the past two years, since its decision to shift its focus from residential battery storage – where it was competing with lithium-ion technologies – to the off-grid, telecom, commercial and industrial sectors, as a lead-acid replacement.

The company also shifted its manufacturing to Thailand, where it began producing battery stacks in January of last year.

And in April, Redflow launched an $18.1 million equity fund raising to help it scale up production of its flow batteries, and grow sales in Australia and overseas.

In comments on Thursday, Mobax Group chief Fred Watkins said he saw significant opportunities arising from the trial of Redflow batteries across southern Africa.

“Redflow’s ZBM2 batteries offer many advantages over diesel generators, lithium and lead-acid batteries,” he said.

“As well as eliminating the cost and complex logistics of constantly shipping and storing diesel at remote sites and having to replace lead-acid batteries every few years, these long-life Redflow batteries reduce the risk of theft which is a major issue for all mobile telecom operators.”

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