Australian coal plant tests iron flow batteries


From pv magazine Australia

The site adjacent to Stanwell Power Station on Queensland’s mid-coast is now home to 10 iron flow batteries, with another 10 to follow suit shortly,* as the state government-owned energy company Stanwell Corp. prepares to transform its soon-to-be retiring coal plant to a AUD 100 million ($64 million) hub for renewable commercialisation testing, research, development and training.

The iron flow batteries use the technology of US-based Energy Storage Solutions, better known as ESS. Inc, for which local company Energy Storage Industries owns the Asia-Pacific licence. The pilot batteries are each 12 meters long and have a combined capacity of 1 MW/10 MWh. In its announcement, the Queensland government said the installation marks Australia’s first iron flow battery and the largest such installation in the world.

Energy Storage Industries (ESI) Managing Director Stuart Parry told pv magazine Australia the battery project is expected to be operational by September 2024. Once fully commissioned, Stanwell will acquire the flow battery, saying that it is aiming deliver service and maintenance on the pilot.

The iron flow battery deal is just one element of the transformation of Stanwell Power Station into the Stanwell Clean Energy Hub. This will include a AUD 100 million Future Energy and Innovation Training Hub (FEITH), described as a mall-sized “sandbox” for new technologies in wind, solar, hydrogen and battery storage.

Stanwell is also partnering with hydrogen electrolyzer technology company Hysata, a spinoff from research conducted at the University of Wollongong, which claims to have the world’s most efficient electrolysis cell. Stanwell’s Rockhampton hub will host 5 MW pilot project with Hysata’s electrolyzer technology to validate its commercialisation potential and technical performance. To that end, Stanwell will provide AUD 3 million and supply the site and facilities for the field deployment of the electrolyser at the site.

While news of the Stanwell coal plant’s transformation was only made Monday, work seems to have already began in the form of the battery delivery, and the government noted it will establish common infrastructure and civil works “in late 2023.”

The Stanwell hub is to be realised in stages, with the announcement flagging the AUD 100 million investment will be deployed over the next five years.

In early August, the Queensland government committed AUD 24 million to further evaluate and assess the capacity of flow battery technology to help the state meet its renewable energy targets. Of that funding, AUD 12 million went towards an iron flow battery from ESI.

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