Largo and Ansaldo negotiating vanadium flow battery joint venture for EMEA market

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Largo Clean Energy, part of vanadium primary producer Largo Resources, and Ansaldo Green Tech are exploring the potential of a joint venture (JV) for deploying vanadium flow batteries.

The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with each other to negotiate the formation of a JV for manufacturing and deploying vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFBs). The two highlighted Europe, Africa and the Middle East as potential target markets for the JV, which would be based in Italy.

Both have agreed not to engage in talks with any other third party for the purpose of deployment or commercialisation of VRFBs in those geographic markets for a period of 150 days. If successful, they said the JV could address identified needs in the European energy sector, although cautioned that a definitive agreement was not a certainty.

Nasdaq-listed Largo Resources is one of the three main primary vanadium producers in the world, along with Glencore and Bushveld Minerals. Primary production accounts for around 20% of the world’s vanadium supply with most of the remainder coming from the processing of industrial metal waste or ‘slag’.

It formed Largo Clean Energy in 2020 as a vertically integrated energy storage solution provider, acquiring 12 patient families from VionX Energy Corp and investing US$150 million in its VRFB technology. It clinched its first order with Enel Green Power in August 2021, for a 1.22MW/6.1MWh (five-hour duration) system in Spain set for commissioning in Q4 2022.

Ansaldo Green Tech is part of Ansaldo Energia, a global power engineering solutions firm which is exploring other long-duration energy storage partnerships alongside the work with Largo. The Italy-based firm signed a commercial licensing agreement with ‘CO2 battery’ firm Energy Dome recently to commercialise its technology across its core markets.

There are several companies commercialising utility-scale VRFB-based energy storage systems alongside Largo Clean Energy, including Invinity Energy Systems and CellCube. The main challenge the sector faces in displacing lithium-ion is a minuscule supply chain for VFRBs compared to today’s battery chemistry of choice.

Speaking to Energy-Storage.news in May, CellCube CEO Alexander Schoenfeldt reckoned the vanadium battery supply chain outside China totalled just 30MW of annual production capacity. Within China, the first phase of a 800MWh VRFB system, by far the largest in the world, was commissioned last month.

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