SYDNEY, Australia — Tuesday 14th February, 2017: Ecoult, CSIRO offshoot and leading energy storage business, has been selected by the Institute for Transformative Technologies (ITT) as part of one of the most far-reaching and important energy projects in the world, bringing low-emissions power and energy storage to remote, rural communities in India. Ecoult’s selection follows from its development of off-grid, diesel-saving power systems in the telecoms sector in Australia.
At ITT’s test facility in India, the UltraFlex, a product Ecoult developed using the CSIRO invented UltraBattery with $583,780 support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), is being tested as one of the possible storage technologies under ITT’s rural electrification program.
In Australia we have a very reliable and widely distributed electricity grid – among the biggest and most sophisticated grid networks on the planet. In India, Africa and South-East Asia this isn’t the case.
There are millions of people who do not have access to reliable electricity and hundreds of thousands of diesel-powered generators chug away 24/7 in those markets – almost half a million in India alone – with communities eager for a safe and reliable power storage solution to bring health, education and economic benefits, to improve their overall quality of life.
What these sites need is a battery that is fast charging, highly efficient, has an ideal mix of power and energy, close to zero maintenance, can be monitored and controlled remotely over the web and can run all day in high temperatures with minimal energy spent on cooling. The CSIRO invented UltraBattery is one of the only technologies in the world that ticks every box.
In 2014, Ecoult began a project to reduce diesel use on an off-grid telecommunication base station south of Sydney provided by one of Australia’s largest telecommunications companies. Mobile base stations send and receive radio signals and are responsible for providing phone reception. In remote areas they may run 24 hours per day on diesel power. Even on the forested site with no access to wind or solar, half the diesel was cut. The system paid for itself in diesel savings in 18 months.
John Wood, CEO, Ecoult explained, “The outcome from this project was one of the key reasons why ITT chose Ecoult as one of their potential storage solutions, currently under field testing, for its major project on Achieving Universal Electrification in India through solar mini-grids.”
Access to new and innovative solar-powered technologies for rural electrification, is one of ITT’s core areas, and India is a primary country of focus.
“The sites where UltraBattery can add economic, environmental and social value in India are not just about telecommunications. They are sites that have the potential to bring education, health benefits, jobs and very-low-carbon electricity to some of the world’s most remote communities,” John Wood said.
They are sites where a solution can be easily realised with essentially the same collection of technologies that Ecoult installed two years ago on that small but vital pilot project in southern NSW.
“We wish to thank ARENA for supporting Ecoult as we work steadily towards making energy storage for a cleaner planet,” John Wood added.
Ivor Frischknecht, CEO, ARENA, said battery storage with renewables was the key to unlocking clean, reliable and cheap energy in remote locations.
“I’m pleased to see our early stage support has helped Ecoult refine and commercialise its innovative, Australian-made UltraBattery solution,” Mr Frischknecht said.
“We know renewable energy and storage solutions have the potential to transform the way people around the world get their energy. In Australia alone, we’ve estimated there are 850 MW worth of off-grid projects that could be developed as technology costs fall and confidence grows.”
The sun and another great Australian invention – the fully sustainable, robust and remote controlled UltraBattery – are perfect partners for heavy lifting in remote locations. Every day, millions of litres of diesel are used to power our global mobile communications.
John Wood says Ecoult is well positioned to take its experience out to new markets, improving power quality and electricity access without the fossil fuel overhead. “The investments in projects here and the lessons learned from them pay off globally, taking Australian storage technology out into the planet’s most remote regions,” he said. “Today diesel is a fuel of convenience. Tomorrow it could be the fuel of last resort.”
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