Victorian dairy quits grid, turns to solar power and vanadium flow battery

A Victorian dairy farm is looking to cover all of its electricity needs with “affordable and reliable” renewable energy, via the installation of a 450kW solar system and a 80kW/320kWh vanadium redox flow battery.

Meredith Dairy – in the mid-western Victoria town of the same name – is installing the impressive solar and storage system in collaboration with Profit Share Power, with the battery component provided by VSUN Energy.

VSUN’s owner Australian Vanadium Limited said on Thursday that the Dairy’s goal was to have a sustainable operation with full power being supplied via onsite renewables.

The choice of a vanadium redox flow battery, which would be able to supply many hours of power while also offering high cycling capability, was a crucial part of meeting that goal, AVL said.

“This dairy farming project once again confirms the strength of VRFBs for the agricultural sector,” AVL managing director Vincent Algar said.

“Delivering reliable power generated from renewable sources in a long-life and non-flammable battery provides increased energy security.

“Being able to secure reliable power with a fixed energy price through the installation of solar and a VRFB system gives the business economic security for years to come,” he said.

Some of the strengths of vanadium redox flow technology compared to other battery chemistries are its 100 per cent depth of discharge, lack of performance degradation over time, and ability to re-use the non-flammable vanadium electrolyte at the end of the battery’s life.

The manufacturer of this particular system, Avalon Battery, has recently inked a deal with South African vanadium producer, Bushveld Minerals, to provide a leasing option for vanadium electrolyte, thus cutting costs and providing options for electrolyte disposal in the future.

VSUN, the vanadium redox flow battery storage offshoot of mining group Australian Vanadium has been chipping away at the Australian residential and commercial/industrial storage markets for a few years now.

Last month it sold a 20kW/80kWh VRFD system to a Victorian apple farmer, to maximise its solar self-consumption and further reign in costs.

VSUN previously used the CellCube technology of Austrian outfit Gildemeister, and in 2016 installed a 100kWh unit alongside a 15kW solar PV system at a Western Australian farm near Busselton.

For the busy and highly successful Meredith Dairy, which is perhaps best known for its marinated goats cheese, installing their own system was about ensuring economic security and reliability of supply.

“So
 many businesses have been impacted by increased energy overheads in recent years
 and now …we are taking control of our energy overheads, reducing our energy costs, improving our competitiveness while increasing our ability to produce power in a cleaner and smarter way,” said dairy owner Sandy Cameron.

“Our goal is to show that businesses can be profitable, but at the same time run a sustainable business that will have a positive impact on the planet we share with others and leave to our
children. Profitability and sustainability do not need to be mutually exclusive.”

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