Sunny savings for ECEC centres with the supply of sustainable batteries
Currently under construction, two “state-of-the-art” children’s centres in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs are set to tick the box for National Quality Standard Element 3.2.3 (environmentally responsible) before they even open, with the installation of 32 zinc-bromine flow batteries, capable of storing 160 kilowatt hours of energy.
As well as saving the planet, the batteries will save each of the two sites an estimated $140,000 a year in energy cost savings. The batteries will be installed at The Knox Children and Family Centres in Wantirna South (due to open in January 2019), and a Bayswater centre (due to open in March 2019).
The company responsible for supplying the batteries, Redflow, said the advantages of the zinc-bromine flow batteries included:
- The ability to discharge 100 per cent of their stored energy daily without damaging the battery;
- Sustained energy storage capacity for 10 years;
- Tolerance of warm temperatures; and,
- Inherent safety with a non-flammable electrolyte.
Torus Group will install both the solar panels and the batteries from next week with Torus Group CEO Anthony Vippond saying the use of solar panels and Redflow batteries at the new centres would reduce their dependence on the energy grid.
“As well as cutting power costs, they will provide resilience for essential services, such as back-up power for exit and emergency lighting and lift motors, which is important in a community facility like this.”
Highlighting the safety measures within the system, Mr Vippond said zinc-bromine flow batteries do not have the potential fire risk that’s associated with other battery chemistries, and that Redflow batteries use components that are easy to recycle or reuse. An important consideration given the ACECQA guidance that sustainability is “more than just a worm farm” in it’s calls to encourage educators and services to truly embed environmental responsibility into their programs.
Plans were being developed for the two childcare centres to share their renewably generated energy with the community using blockchain technology, further boosting their energy independence, and putting a sustainable twist on Quality Area Six.