German flow battery firm VoltStorage gets €30 million EU-guaranteed EIB venture loan


Germany-based flow battery company VoltStorage has been granted a venture debt loan of €30 million (US$33 million) by the European Investment Bank (EIB), guaranteed by the European Commission.

The EIB has granted the loan to VoltStorage for the Munich-based company to invest in R&D as well as set up a production factory. VoltStorage will use it to commercialise its existing vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) technology and scale up its new iron-salt battery technology, or ISB.

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The company raised €24 million in equity investment from Cummins Inc., a US corporation that develops and distributes engines, filtration, and power generation products, 12 months ago, with a total of €30 million investment raised to-date according to Pitchbook.

The guarantee by the European Commission under the EU’s InnovFin Energy Demonstration Projects (EDP) Facility most likely allowed VoltStorage to get a bigger loan than would otherwise have been possible, with venture debt not typically exceeding the most recent equity round.

The EIB said flow battery technology has the potential to “become a game changer for the green transition towards renewable energies,” which is why it got a guarantee under the EDP Facility.

Flow battery technology contains fewer scarce metals like lithium, cobalt and nickel, has a much lower fire risk and next-to-no degradation when compared with lithium-ion, making it, in the eyes of many, a much better choice for stationary energy storage system (ESS) technology, especially at longer durations for heavy-cycling applications.

However, it has a much lower energy density meaning a larger land footprint, a higher upfront capital expenditure investment required, lower round-trip efficiency (RTE) and also a much more limited supply chain today making utility-scale projects at the larger end harder to deliver.

VoltStorage aims to bring its technology to utility-scale from 2025 onwards. The company has changed strategy since inception in 2016, when it was initially targeting the residential energy storage market. Since then, it has pivoted to focus on the commercial and industrial (C&I) and grid-scale spaces.

EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle said: “The EIB supports innovative and sustainable advanced technology developed and manufactured in the European Union, and especially storage technology. VoltStorage’s technology has the potential to become a game changer for renewable energies, making them as reliable 24/7 as fossil fuel power plants have been in the past. We are therefore proud to support this promising start-up.”

Jakob Bitner, CEO & Co-Founder of VoltStorage, added: “This financing will enable us to fully focus on developing and commercialising our innovative energy storage solutions, as well as scaling up our production capabilities to meet growing demand.”

Other DACH-based (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) flow battery companies include VRFB firm CellCube and organic flow battery company CMBlu. However, one source told last year that the German market “does not think it needs flow batteries”, with most believing lithium-ion can do short duration and green hydrogen will suffice for anything longer.

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