Fonterra’s Waitoa production site is being used to trial what the co-operative describes as a new low-cost, long-life battery to power some operations there and help avoid supply disruptions.
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Fonterra trials 'world-first' sustainable electricity storage at Waitoa
Fonterra’s trialling new dairy production technology at its plant in Waitoa (file).

In a statement on an announcement being made Wednesday, the co-op said PolyJoule, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology spin-off, is partnering with Fonterra on the application of the battery.

It is made from electrically conductive polymers, an organic based compound with the ability to act like metal.

Late last year, the world’s first industrial scale organic battery was installed on a Fonterra farm at Te Rapa. The battery supported dairy shed operations for 10 months.

The co-op is now moving this battery to its Waitoa UHT site, which can be impacted by power disturbances leading to downtime and waste.

Fonterra chief operating officer Fraser Whineray said that, as a very significant electricity user, a sustainable and secure electricity supply was vital to the co-op’s local sales and exports.

“The PolyJoule battery has a remarkable discharge rate, which may ultimately link with ultra-fast charging our fleet, including Milk-E our electric milk tanker.”

PolyJoule’s chief executive Eli Paster said he saw great opportunity for growth in New Zealand to support energy security and job creation in the manufacturing and technology sectors.

“Since PolyJoule batteries do not rely on lithium, nickel, or lead, the materials are easier to source and the batteries are safer and easier to manufacture anywhere in the world, including New Zealand.

“When you look at where the grid is heading and the number of batteries needed for the region, building a manufacturing base in New Zealand could create hundreds of new jobs and a new green energy hub.”

The PolyJoule battery installation is the third decarbonisation project Fonterra’s Waitoa site has recently adopted. Last month it also announced the site will install a new biomass boiler and it will also be home to Milk-E – New Zealand’s first electric milk tanker.

The quality rating of domestic dairy products has remained above 99 percent for six consecutive years, experts said at a webinar.

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