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Schmid eyes flow battery potential with VanadiumCorp materials partnership

Colourful rocks of vanadium mined in the US by American Vanadium. Image: American Vanadium.
The energy storage division of Schmid Energy Systems has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with vanadium supplier VanadiumCorp Resource to jointly work on mineral extraction and developing vanadium electrolyte.

Schmid also entered a partnership agreement with the Vanadium Electrolyte Process Partnership (VEPP), which is an entity formed by VanadiumCorp in April in order to formalize “various initiatives for process development”.

At the time of VEPP being launched, Adriaan Bakker, president and chief executive of VanadiumCorp said: "Vanadium Redox Batteries are emerging as the technology of choice for grid storage and alternative to competing technologies with longer life cycle, superior safety, and unlimited capacity. Demand is outpacing supply and the largest high purity vanadium market in the world is located in North America.”

Schmid, which specialises in storage solutions based on vanadium redox flow technology, now plans to collaborate with VanadiumCorp on various business opportunities.

Firstly the firms will look at developing vanadium electrolyte (VE) for batteries and extracting high purity vanadium materials by direct process from VanadiumCorp’s mineral claims in the Chibougamau mining centre in Quebec, Canada.

They will also look at commercialisation of mineral extraction and the processing of VE in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner followed by marketing vanadium-based technologies to the large-scale grid-connected energy storage market.

The two companies are looking to enter what they have called a “definitive agreement” within the next 12 months.

Schmid director of technology Olaf Conrad said: "The long-term security of supply of VE at predictable cost is of utmost strategic importance for our goal to become the leading global supplier of large-scale grid-energy storage systems. We are excited to work with VanadiumCorp on the development of a primary VE supply by a direct process from vanadium containing mineral."

Expert predicts 300MW of flow batteries orders in 2016

In a note sent to Energy-Storage.News today, consultant Anthony Price of UK-based Swanbarton consulting gave his prediction that there will be at least 300MW of orders for flow batteries deployed this year across the various market segments worldwide.

While lithium-ion has been the battery of choice for several years and appears to hold the most promise in power applications, there is a growing consensus that flow batteries could meet the needs of other applications, namely those which require long duration storage of several hours.

“..each year I am amazed at the enthusiasm for long duration energy storage such as flow batteries.  The R&D is impressive, but it is even more impressive to see companies delivering flow battery projects that are balancing loads, maintaining network frequency, overcoming constraints in the network and giving independence to self-producers of electricity," Price said.

Price added that the 300MW of flow batteries expected is just a fraction of the expected market size for lithium-ion, but in fact is the same level Li-ion was at for stationary storage applications just seven years ago.

Anthony Price blogged for Energy-Storage.News last week on the International Flow Battery Forum in Karlsruhe, Germany that his company is organising. The event takes place from 7-9 June.

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