Flow battery energy technology overcomes many of the issues associated with providing on- and off-grid remote power to rural areas.

As a result of rugged terrain, a lack of local services and low concentrations of customers, supplying electricity to remote areas has always been a challenge for utilities. Due to, the cost of maintaining remote infrastructure is much higher per customer than in more densely populated urban areas.

Solutions for supplying electricity to remote environments have traditionally included cheaper, less robust pole and wire strategies, such as single wire earth return (SWER) lines. These, however, typically provide comparatively low quality power and result in unstable grids that have little or no redundancy, meaning that power outages become unavoidable when faults occur.

In order to deliver a more reliable source of electricity to remote environments, alternative methods of providing electricity have been widely investigated, including remote area power systems (RAPS) energy technology. Providing customers with reliable electricity supply and remote site power storage, RAPS usually include a diesel generator, an optional source of solar or other form of renewable energy, and energy storage such as a flow battery.


Redflow energy storage applications in remote environments

After it was discovered that faulty power lines were a partial cause of several fatal bushfires in Victoria in 2008, Redflow participated in a demonstration trial to investigate the feasibility of power supply alternatives for remote areas.

During the nine-month trial, ten remote residential sites were taken off grid and one RAPS was installed at each location. Each system consisted of a diesel generator, solar panels and Redflow hybrid lead-acid/ZBM flow battery energy storage.

A range of trial sites were selected, from high to low power users, and from good solar exposure sites to those that received only a little sun. At the end of the trial we found the RAPS installations successfully reduced diesel generator run time to just 8–30%. Without flow battery energy storage, however, the run time would have been much closer to 100% in most cases.

These results show that by utilising flow battery energy storage, remote customers can reduce the costs of generating off-grid power and access a reliable, consistent source of electricity.