Tech guru Simon Hackett installs storage to take office complex off-grid | RenewEconomy

Tech guru Simon Hackett installs storage to take office complex off-grid

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Technology entrepreneur Simon Hackett has a Tesla. Now he wants to take his Adelaide tech business off-grid, with the help of solar and Redflow energy storage.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Australian battery technology developer Redflow says it has made the first Australian sale of its commercial large scale energy storage system, albeit to its own company director Simon Hackett, the tech guru who will install it in a renovated office complex in Adelaide as part of longer term plans to take the office off-grid.

Redflow is hailing the sale of its zinc bromide flow battery system as the start of a trend for commercial buildings to integrate solar and other renewable energy sources.

The 20 foot (6m) container will accommodate 60 ZBM3 battery modules providing up to 300kW and 660kWh of energy with a voltage output between 400V and 800V DC. Delivery and installation is expected in June 2015.

551070_10150800446494052_1776296448_nHackett, the technology entrepreneur who was also one of the first people to take a Tesla Model S electric vehicle in Australia, will use the storage system at his $7 million renovated office complex known as Base64 located in an historic Adelaide mansion (pictured below).

Base64 will use the $1 million storage system to store energy from its existing 20kW array of solar panels. Hackett says the system will allow a significant reduction in consumption from the grid, particularly in peak periods, and act as a back-up in power failures.

He said a second system may be installed in the future, along with more solar panels, as part of plans to largely disconnect from the grid.

“Our mid-term goal is to have Base64 capable of operating without routine use of the local energy supply grid at all, by generating electricity on-site and using the LBS systems to time-shift the delivery of that energy as required.”


Hackett made a $2.2 million investment in Redflow earlier last year and in November was appointed to its board. The founder of Internode and a director of NBNco said he expected battery storage to be “totally disruptive.”

Redflow said in a statement the system is scaleable and can be placed in series and/or parallel and powered from renewable energy sources such as solar.

“In addition, when combined with existing diesel generator installations, the generator running time can be reduced significantly thereby saving on ongoing maintenance and fuel replenishment costs resulting in lower operating costs.”

“Distributed generation and the use of renewables is a rapidly emerging and growing segment,” it says.

Redflow last month said it would fast-track the release of its residential and business offerings, which it said was becoming competitive with grid tariffs, particularly in Europe.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

  1. Mags 6 years ago

    What a star – we need millions more like him and many less like other billionaires who shall remain nameless!!

  2. Rob 6 years ago

    Exciting stuff. Storage is the missing link. As soon as its affordable/viable its hello sunshine, goodbye fossil fuel madness.

    • Jouni Valkonen 6 years ago

      Storage is already affordable enough, but markets are underdeveloped due to inertia and lack of knowhow. Off-grid system may cause the collapse of Australian Grid utilities in matter of few years. The more utility companies are raising the price of grid electricity to compensate the losses caused by solar storage, the more it encourages people and companies to go off-grid. This death spiral is unavoidable and catastrophically fast. Millions of Australian pension savers will lose their savings when the assets of utility companies are collapsing.

      • Raahul Kumar 6 years ago

        I disagree Jouni, if storage was affordable every system would come with it by default. Costs still need to come down, and battery technology won’t get solar there.

        • Jouni Valkonen 6 years ago

          There is a lag in market, because it takes time to make actual products. Simply, having cheap battery cells are not enough, but also the whole grid must support smart control of batteries. And Smart Grid technology is still at development stage.

          In business, having good idea is not enough. The difficult part is how a good idea is developed into good product.

          Also there is a chicken and egg problem. Distributed energy storage is vastly cheaper if every household have them and utility company can control distributed storage as single unit. However before financial benefits are materializing, new infrastructure that allows precision control must exist.

          Also there is problem of financing new technology. it is difficult to make long term predictions how profitable battery investment is today. And if banks does not have this information, it is difficult for them to offer reasonably priced loans. This is why, we need government backing for the loans.

          However, in Germany and California, research is already fairly advanced and more and more roof-top solar systems are equipped with battery storage. Solar City predicts that by 2020 all their solar installations will be equipped with battery storage by 2020 and in few months they are publishing their distributed energy storage solution.

  3. Miles Harding 6 years ago

    Go Simon! We need people that are willing to actually do something.

    The 660kwh does seem to be a lot for that office. It will take the solar panels a week to charge the battery, assuming no loads from the building, so this looks to be partly a field trial of the redflow battery. In which case, we shouldn’t be put off by the high price tag, as practical power systems need not be anywhere near this expensive.

    A similar experiment is being conducted in Western Australia, at EV Works. They have put some of the batteries they import into service as a solar charged off-grid store. At about 50kwh, the EVWorks Li-ion battery is a lot smaller than Simon’s, but has some limitations. I believe that there are approximately 5 days per year that the system must be switched over to the (backup) mains. It is likely that varying the business activities on those days, such as cleaning up the workshop, would completely remove the need to use the mains. Offices don’t have power hungry machine tools and vehicle lifters.

    I would expect a 50Kwh storage with 30Kw power to be about than $40K at today’s prices, still not cheap, but not astronomical either.

  4. Colin Tree 6 years ago

    Good technology for large installations. This is the stuff to get whole towns off grid.
    Much longer life than lead acid but high complexity and high maintenance. Is the plastic good for containing highly acidic zinc bromide for 15+ years? Maintenance in protective suits is not for the DIY. I wouldn’t have it anywhere near were I live.
    Still waiting for a good, long life, low toxicity, deep storage battery for domestic use.

    • Raahul Kumar 6 years ago

      Then consider flywheels or hydrogen fuel cells. Both can do the job, and a battery, for reasons of toxicity and cost, isn’t ideal for this application.

Comments are closed.

Get up to 3 quotes from pre-vetted solar (and battery) installers.