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‘Local supply chain and value creation’ for flow batteries established in Australia

CellCube battery storage paired with solar PV at a commercial and industrial (C&I) site. Image: Enerox/CellCube.

An agreement to support the manufacture and sale of vanadium flow batteries has been struck between Australian Vanadium and Enerox, which makes and markets systems under its CellCube brand.

Stock exchange-listed Australian Vanadium Limited (AVL) said this morning that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Enerox, which is headquartered in Austria. The pair will develop offtake arrangements for the vanadium pentoxide used in the battery systems’ electrolyte, as well as an electrolyte blending facility in Australia to support CellCube installations.

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Additionally, like the joint venture (JV) announced this week by rival flow battery maker Invinity Energy Systems and vanadium producer Bushveld Minerals, the pair will offer vanadium electrolyte for rent to customers – thereby lowering the upfront cost of investing in the systems, with electrolyte typically making up about a third of the battery’s total cost.

Australian Vanadium has a subsidiary called VSUN Energy which markets and installs vanadium flow batteries from a range of manufacturers. VSUN has now signed a ‘Value Added Reseller Agreement’ with Enerox. VSUN Energy will supply and install CellCube and related services in Australia under the agreement. Enerox markets the CellCube systems into both grid-connected storage and off-grid / microgrid market segments.

“I am very happy we are growing our Australian business with VSUN Energy as our local partner. Having 3 systems already in the region and taking the Covid situation into account, it is for us and our clients very important to have a trusted partner in Australia who is trained on our systems and who we have known for many years,” CellCube and Enerox chief operating officer Alexander Schönfeldt said.

“For the increasing demand of long duration energy storage specifically in hot and remote areas, the Vanadium Redox-Flow technology in combination with renewables is the best solution. Having a local supply chain and value creation will be a major benefit for the people and business in Australia”.

Supply of resources from AVL’s own vanadium mining project included in agreement

AVL is developing the Australian Vanadium Project, which will look to excavate high-grade raw materials from a site in Western Australia. The MoU with Enerox would see AVL supplying vanadium from that project to CellCube systems.

The project was awarded Federal Major Project Status by the national government in late 2019 and State Lead Agency Status by the Western Australia state government in April this year, in recognition that it could enable the supply of critical metals and support a local battery supply chain. AVL is awaiting approval for a Mining Lease Application.

Much has been made of the potential for vanadium flow batteries to serve the longer duration segment of the stationary energy storage market, offering as they do the chance to scale up energy capacity simply by scaling up the size of tanks of electrolyte. Flow batteries also promise heavy duty daily cycling without degradation, while manufacturers also claim the components and materials are widely recyclable and some, like the vanadium, retain their value even after years of use.

However, unlike lithium-ion batteries, there have not been any vanadium flow battery gigafactories announced – until earlier this year, when a 3GWh facility in Saudi Arabia was revealed to be under development through a joint venture (JV) formed by German tech company Schmid Group and Saudi Arabian investment company Nusaned. Other notable efforts include an announcement earlier this year that KORID Energy Company Limited, a South Korea manufacturer, is looking to site a smaller 200MWh factory in North America.

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