Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) — a joint venture set up in 2017 by Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees to deliver the phase 2 of the Rural Broadband Initiative and the Mobile Blackspot program — has chosen batteries from Australian company Redflow to enable its cell sites in remote rural locations to operate off-grid.
RCG is building more than 400 new cell sites in rural locations to extend mobile and wireless broadband coverage to more than 34,000 rural homes and businesses, provide mobile coverage to a further 1000 kilometres of state highways and provide connectivity to more than 100 New Zealand tourist destinations by December 2022.
The project is funded by the government’s Telecommunications Development Levy and a $75m from Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees.
The off-grid cell sites will operate through a combination of photovoltaic panels, Redflow batteries and backup generators. The first site, which will use eight Redflow batteries, is expected to be completed by the end of December 2019.
RCG head of procurement and commercial, Richard Spencer, said the company believed Redflow's technology would provide a compelling solution for RCG because of its deep cycling capability, its long life and its environmental benefits over competing technologies,.
Redflow batteries have been chosen by Australian telco Optus for cell sites in the Daintree rainforest in Queensland, and are being used by Vodafone at one off-grid site in the Thames Coromandel area
ASX listed Redflow produces 10kWh zinc-bromine flow batteries marketed as ZCell and ZBM2. Redflow says they are designed for high cycle-rate, long time-base stationary energy storage applications in the residential, commercial & industrial and telecommunications sectors.
Redflow says they offer unique advantages including secure remote management, 100 percent daily depth of discharge, tolerance of high ambient temperatures, a simple recycling path, no propensity for thermal runaway and sustained energy delivery throughout their operating life.