At the end of June Manchester, UK hosted the eighth International Flow Battery Forum. As most flow batteries use vanadium, it was the perfect opportunity to host the 2nd Vanitec Energy Storage Committee (ESC) meeting.
Vanitec is the only not-for-profit international global member organisation whose objective is to promote the use of vanadium bearing materials. Its members include all the world’s major vanadium producers as well as vanadium users and those involved in vanadium energy storage. Traditionally used to strengthen steel, vanadium’s use in energy storage has been growing over the past few years and is seen as the preferred choice when long-duration energy storage is required. Where lithium provides power, vanadium provides energy.
In addition to the battery manufacturers represented, a number of large vanadium producers sent delegates to attend the ESC. The inventor of the vanadium flow battery, Maria Skyllas-Kazacos from the University of New South Wales also attended the beginning of the session.
One of the key areas of discussion to arise from the meeting stemmed from a presentation by J. Alberto Arias, Founder of Arias Resource Capital Management LP in New York regarding leasing vanadium electrolyte. Vanadium is the largest cost component of the vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) and in the past, supply and demand shocks have had significant volatility impacts on vanadium prices which could impact on the economic viability of the product going forwards. As vanadium electrolyte does not degrade, a solution, Mr. Arias explained, could be to lease the electrolyte or the vanadium for the battery’s useful life.
Vincent Algar from Australian Vanadium Ltd Chairs the ESC. Vincent comments, “In the rapidly developing energy storage market Vanitec offers the opportunity for all players in vanadium supply chain to interact and focus on some of the challenges that are common to them, with security of supply being a key area for the future of energy storage.”
With lithium dominating the mindset of many in the energy storage world and wider community, a discussion led by Mikhail Nikomarov, CEO of Bushveld Energy, addressed the ‘Lithium Juggernaut’ and how the VRFB industry can promote itself and challenge the use of lithium where VRFB is the more appropriate solution.
The meeting was valuable from many angles. John Hilbert, CEO of Vanitec, comments, “Vanitec is constantly evolving to include new markets for vanadium. While we maintain our presence as an agent to strengthen steel, this growing energy storage market offers many opportunities for our members. With vanadium leasing options offering an attractive financial structure in the flow battery space, it really is an exciting time to be involved in vanadium.”