Following approval by the UK’s Oxford City Council on 9 March, RedT is pioneering a hybrid flow storage system which is a rollout combination of a 50MW lithium-flow hybrid battery in conjunction with the development of a 2MW/5MWh vanadium redox flow battery (VRB). The VRB will underpin the smart energy system in terms of the development of energy storage, balancing services and demand smoothing aspects for the city of Oxford.
The economics and future commercialisation of VRBs faced headwinds from spiking prices during the tail end of 2018, as more stringent rebar regulations and VRB projects in China outlined a scenario of spiking demand. The higher vanadium prices, however, worked to stop anticipated new VRB project installations coming onstream, on top of which, the substitution of ferrovanadium to ferroniobium in rebar dampened the expected demand rise. Nevertheless, vanadium demand grew by 8.7% year-on-year in 2019, although supply from various sources was able to keep pace and prices tapered back down to their 2017 levels.
Looking across the vanadium landscape, companies involved in VRB projects are repositioning themselves to mitigate the price volatility of the industry in an attempt to de-risk and shape a more sustainable path for development of the underperforming battery. Avalon is owned by vanadium miner and processor Bushveld Minerals. The RedT merger is an example of forward supply chain integration that offsets upfront investment costs via a leasing scheme, highlighting the level of deal-making activity in the VRB market space.
Although the project is relatively small in size, the vertically integrated, technically-based nature of the partnership, together with a hybrid battery system, provide a platform to configure an optimised working example of an energy storage system. Energy and power output independency, levelised cost of storage, longer duration and scalable storage can demonstrate distinct VRB core capabilities and strengths within a hybrid energy storage system.
Roskill’s NEW Vanadium: Outlook to 2029, 16th Edition report will be published in May 2020 and provide detailed analysis on supply, demand, trade, prices, cost curves and forecasts. The report will discuss key aspects impacting the industry, including substitution risk from niobium in rebar and the outlook potential of vanadium redox batteries. For more information or to subscribe click here.