No 10. April 2013

Energy Storage Project

Energy storage company Ecoult has won a grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to improve its Deka UltraBattery technology that can deliver cost effective energy storage solutions for homes and businesses.

The $480,000 grant is for a small/mid-sized storage pilot project to develop a prototype for three types of applications: off-grid renewable power solutions for remote area supply; distributed grid connected storage to support voltage and power fluctuations where there is dense concentration of small roof-top solar residential installations; and hybrid generation such as diesel plus renewables to improve fuel efficiencies.

Chief executive John Wood said Ecoult has already demonstrated the success of the Deka UltraBattery technology in megawatt (MW) scale applications in a range of field conditions, and is now in the process of extending the products from MW-scale to commercial and residential applications.

"Our objective is to reduce the cost of energy storage and boost the competitiveness of small-scale renewable energy sources such as roof-top solar panels. This backing from the Australian Government will help us continue our work in enabling affordable and effective integration of renewable energy into the Australian grid as well as in remote, off-grid applications."

The pilot project will extend the successful collaboration between Ecoult, its US-based parent company East Penn Manufacturing and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

CSIRO, which invented the Deka UltraBattery technology, will also play a role in the pilot project, developing intelligent algorithms that improve the integration of Deka Ultrabattery units with the solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and increase the value derived from each kWh of energy storage.

Ecoult has successfully implemented the Deka Ultrabattery technology in MW-scale, grid solutions around the world, delivering regulation services as well as solar and wind energy smoothing and shifting. It is currently implementing Deka Ultrabattery as part of a full stand-alone power system for the King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project being developed by Hydro Tasmania to reduce King Island's reliance on diesel fuel.

Over the last three years, Ecoult has completed extensive accelerated testing that has confirmed the outstanding performance of the Deka Ultrabattery in variability management (smoothing) and in deficit charge regimes typically encountered in distributed solar applications.

Currently, sealed lead acid batteries are the dominant chemistry in distributed energy storage, using motive/ 'deep discharge' batteries that have been adapted for renewable support. However, these batteries steadily lose capacity with each discharge and must be refreshed periodically through an overcharge to restore capacity. Overcharging can be disruptive and ultimately sacrifices some of the useful life of the battery.

Testing by Sandia National Laboratories in the US showed Deka UltraBattery can outperform sealed lead acid batteries by up to five times.

"We see broad scale adoption of Deka Ultrabattery for the support of grid and renewable applications across the full kWh to MWh scale," said Mr Wood.

Ecoult began as a CSIRO spin-off company and is now a subsidiary of US-based battery manufacturer, East Penn Manufacturing, Inc.