Last month, I wrote about how to model Aquion batteries in HOMER microgrid modeling software. I recently attended HOMER Energy’s Microgrid 2015 conference in Canberra. While the HOMER training sessions were really helpful for my job here at Aquion, what was even more interesting was what the conference attendees--all microgrid and power industry professionals--revealed about the energy storage community in Australia. Read on for what I learned at the HOMER Microgrid conference.
This conference was the third in the HOMER Energy Microgrid annual conference series. This year’s theme was “Economically Integrating Storage and Renewables for Resilience, Grid Stability, and Remote Power,” so the focus was on microgrid technology, business models, planning, design, and deployment.
More than 150 people--50% more than last year--from across the industry attended the conference.
New this year was the dedicated storage panel, showcasing different battery technologies. My presentation on minimizing environmental impacts in off-grid systems with solar and storage drew a lot of interest.
Attendees asked me many questions about Aquion’s AHI technology. Here are the ones I heard the most:
Q: Is it really made of saltwater?
A: Yes! AHI electrolyte is made of deionized water mixed with sodium sulfate.
Q: Is it a kind of flow battery?
A: No. The liquid electrolyte in a flow battery literally flows within the cell to make electricity. AHI electrolyte is liquid, but flowing isn’t how it makes electricity.
Q: Is it true that it is maintenance free?
A: Yes! Unlike lead acid batteries, AHI batteries don’t need to be watered and don’t require a maintenance charge.
Q: Can you really use the batteries up to 40°C?
A: Yes! AHI batteries are a good fit for hot climates, such as in Australia.
Q: Is it true that you can get 3,000 cycles at 100% depth of discharge?
A: Yes, though like with any battery, a lot depends on how you use it. We expect most off-grid applications to get eight years of life from our batteries, even with full discharges.
Off-grid applications have become more common in Australia as the energy market there has been shifting towards more renewables. Even in grid-tied applications, more Australians are turning to energy storage. It’s all part of action by local and federal governments to increase the share of renewables in the country’s energy mix. Batteries will be needed to achieve that objective, as we described in our previous blog post “Australia's Energy Profile, Mad Max Style.”
At next year’s Microgrid conference, safety and environmental impact could be the elephants in the room. Legislation and regulations about batteries are being updated right now around the world, with stricter rules pushing for more safety. Aquion AHI batteries are in a good position to meet these concerns: they’re the only Cradle to Cradle Certified™ batteries, and their electrochemistry is inherently safe.
Let’s not forget that the conference was presented by HOMER Energy, maker of the software I use every day at Aquion. Modeling microgrids in HOMER has been the first step in hundreds of proven AHI battery installations. It not only helps ensure that a customer’s installation will work, but also that it will be cost-effective. The training sharpened my HOMER skills so that end users, systems integrators, and systems designers can have even greater confidence in their Aquion AHI battery systems.