Private Clean Energy Micro Grids

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

We formulated something very special during the past week. It was in response to a severe lack of any enthusiasm in Australia with innovation of flow batteries or ways to truly produce clean energy without getting rebates being the main driving force.

I have been holding off writing a blog about my intense disappointment with the clean energy sector in Australia and I wont go there now, but the result is built up rage that has been converted into some 'game changer' results.

The best solar roof tile on the planet is not approved to be used in Australia. We have found a way to get around the hurdles and can apply this tile to our roof with 100% cover. They are efficient, but most importantly they are beautiful which is important so that people want to use them as they are not an ugly addition to their house.

These tiles work without direct sunlight (yes I have confirmed this achieving 78 volts from a panel at 6:15am with daylight, but sun still not up). So imagine a double storey house with 100% solar tile roof cover - thats a lot of effective power generation.

We have also developed a hydro generator that connects to both the 20mm water main which generates power whenever any tap is turned on; plus a 90mm version connected to down-pipes which generate power while its raining.

So power is being generated everywhere.

They key is where do we store this energy?...

There is no secret that Atomic 6 have focused a lot of attention to developing a better mass battery system and keep returning to flow batteries (google them if you dont know what they are). They typically are used for industrial applications due to their size.

There is only one company in Australia who are currently manufacturing and selling them (contrary to what you hear in the news). Problem is they are impossible to deal with for a number of reasons, but ultimately they are only interested in one sector in Australia being telecommunications. So we have once again searched abroad to fix the problem. The only realistic solution is an off-the-shelf flow battery which has high capacity and high price tag. Luckily for us, we have a lot of power generation...

So this is what we spent the week discussing... Do we spend a heap of cash on these batteries and create something truly spectacular in terms of residential development. Maybe the best way to explain this is to explain a real project we are doing using real figures.

This project is a 3 x double storey townhouse in Hughesdale (Chadstone) Victoria. Both ground floor and ground floor is pitched roof which we will apply these roof tiles and hydro generators.

In total across all 3 units there is approx 550m2 of roof cover. Each tile has max output of 30watts, there are 3 tiles per m2. Given that they only need light (not direct sunlight) to work well, you can apply 3.5 hours of light per day on average.

Long story short, the power we can generate and store in these flow batteries (the flow battery only needs to store for non-daylight hours) we can service the power requirements of 14 houses (average houses of course) during summer and 4 houses during winter. I repeat, for every 3 unit development like this, we can provide enough power to get up to additional 11 houses off grid (theoretically off grid - as by law all suburban houses need to be connected to the grid).

So this does 2 things:

  1. stabilizes the grid with direct access to power (keep reading for why this is significant).

  2. helps save the planet

In a way, its the private sector fixing the problems the government or authorities either dont know how to do, or are too caught up in red tape to actually do it.

Currently the main supplier of Victoria's energy is from a few power plants (including wind generation) but they are all 150km - 200km + away. This is inefficient and huge infrastructure. The map below shows the location of these plants around Vic

Hard to read, but nothing close to metro Melbourne or Geelong / Ballarat / Bendigo.

The map below shows power plants in metro Melbourne & Geelong. You will see 3 points - these are 'back up' gas generators which kick in on days of huge demand or blackout.

The point being, if you want to fix the grid, or make it more dependable or provide better power, having hundreds of these micro grids (unit developments) scattered around metro cities around the world is a great contributor to the solution. The private sector pays (as part of their development) for a state and federal (and global) issue.

As part of a recent deal for manufacturing, we have reduced our raw costs and some labour by outsourcing; during the week we decided to allocate the saving / increased profit to flow batteries / solar so that the costs dont become a hurdle of doing the right thing by the planet. The catch is we need to buy around $1.0m of these batteries to get them interested in the Australian market again (so many international companies have gone away from Australia as we are becoming a joke with our regulations and slow intake of innovation - very sad).

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