Redflow takes on Telsa with 10kWh solar battery

Source: Featured in The Australian Thursday 31/03/2016

Technology entrepreneur Simon Hackett is betting big on batteries, tackling Tesla head-on with a 10 kilowatt hour battery for Australian homes.

The ZCell, from Australian battery firm Redflow, can store 10kWh of energy, allowing people to “timeshift” solar power from day to night, store off-peak power for peak demand periods and support off-grid systems.

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By David Swan

“This is not just another battery, this is a whole new sort of battery,” Redflow executive chairman Mr Hackett told The Australian.

“Previously this has only been used in very big scale installations, like in phone towers. We’re bringing it to your home.”

The ZCell houses Redflow’s ZBM2 flow battery in an enclosure that sits on the ground, connecting to a battery inverter/charger unit that delivers stored energy to the home.

Mr Hackett said there were limitations inherent in most batteries that the ZCell doesn’t have. “Normally the harder you work them, the shorter the shelf life,” he said. “If you think about the battery in your laptop or in your phone, they get worn out; this battery has the opposite effect. “And the harder you work it the happier it is; these things just go and go and go.”

He said a key factor in joining Redflow was its focus on renewable energies, with ZCell enabling users to reduce their carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuel-generated electricity by storing energy harvested from solar panels. Its materials can also be easily recycled.

Mr Hackett, former co-founder of internet service provider Internode, describes himself as “Tesla’s biggest and happiest fan”, but says there’s room for both in the home battery market.

Electric car maker Tesla produces a lithium-ion home battery called the Powerwall, a 7 kWh battery that is already being installed in Australian homes.

“I think the market’s exploding and Tesla will sell a hell of a lot. They deserve to. This will be like the internet boom of the 90s, honestly. Everyone will be busy making stuff,” he said.

“Certainly Tesla has done the world a favour. They’ve brought out sexy battery at just the right time.” Mr Hackett said as soon as Tesla announced its home battery system “the phone just started ringing”, with Australians wanting a locally-made equivalent.

Mr Hackett said Redflow doesn’t provide a total installed system price as his company only supplies part of the overall system, but said he expected a fully installed cost of a 10 kWh ZCell-based system to start from between $17,500 and $19,500.

Australian residential installations are scheduled to start midyear, kicked off by an introductory rebate offer for eligible Redflow shareholders.