Queensland government invests A$24m in flow batteries to boost battery network

Article by Kerry Hebden

THE QUEENSLAND government is investing A$24m (US$15.4m) into iron and zinc flow batteries from local manufacturers to support the next stage of the state’s local battery capabilities, and to help meet its renewable energy commitments. 

The funds will be split between two projects; Redflow, a clean energy storage company, will receive A$12m for a zinc-bromine flow battery with the preferred site identified at Ipswich; and Energy Storage Industries – Asia Pacific (ESI) which will also receive A$12m for an iron flow battery to be deployed in the Wide Bay region of Queensland. 

Redflow’s 4 MWh project is estimated to be worth approximately A$3.5m revenue for the firm, it said, and the project is expected to be delivered in the second quarter of 2024. 

Meanwhile, ESI said it has already installed ten grid-scale batteries at a Queensland facility and has a further ten batteries en route. The firm said by the end of 2026, it will produce 200 MW/1.6 GWh of energy storage annually, with an ambition to expand to 400 MW/3.2 GWh.

The investment is the latest push by Energy Queensland – a group of electricity distribution, retail, and energy services businesses 100% owned by the state – to delivery on its network battery programme. 

The organisation favours the use of zinc-bromine and iron flow technologies over the more common lithium-ion battery systems as these are predominantly manufactured off-shore, whereas flow batteries can be developed locally. 

The first phase of the strategy is to install 40 MWh of energy storage across five locations – Townsville, Yeppoon, Bundaberg, Hervey Bay and Toowoomba – where rooftop solar penetration is high. The idea is that the batteries will allow the solar energy made locally during the day to be stored and used locally during peak consumption in the evening. A further 12 batteries are expected to be installed across the state, as the programme continues its rollout. 

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said that the government is backing local manufacturing of batteries because it means more jobs across more regions in Queensland. “If we don’t back investment in batteries in Queensland, we will see investment go offshore.” 

Energy minister Mick de Brenni backed the premier’s statement, adding that the new flow battery projects “are just one of the ways we are enabling the transition to a low carbon energy future and, ultimately, helping to keep electricity prices down”. 

Correction: due to incorrect source data, this article originally said that EMI is aiming to deliver up to 400 MW of energy storage each year for the next 15 years, starting from the end of 2026. This should have read 400 MW/3.2 GWh and has been corrected. In addition, the firm has changed their expected output from 400 MW/3.2 GWh to 200 MW/1.6 GWh of energy storage annually, and this too has been corrected to reflect the new data.

Article by Kerry Hebden

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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