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The vanadium redox (and redox flow) battery is a type of rechargeable flow battery that uses vanadium ions in different oxidation states to store chemical potential energy.i

Vanadium Redox Flow Battery Explained

The vanadium redox (and redox flow) battery is a type of rechargeable flow battery that uses vanadium ions in different oxidation states to store chemical potential energy.

The Vanadium Redox Battery (VRB) was first successfully demonstrated by Dr. Skyllas-Kazacos and co-workers at the University of New South Wales in the 1980s. The Vanadium Redox battery which Professor Skyllas-Kazacos pioneered is now regarded internationally as one of the most feasible technologies currently available to meet the growing need for efficient renewable energy storage to help in the global reduction of fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.ii

Why Vanadium Redox Batteries?

With power plants rapidly changing their power output to keep the grid in balance, they deviate from their most efficient operating point, increasing fuel use and emissions.iii A viable and cost-efficient solution it to take advantage of renewable energy storage and release it to the grid at the optimal time to avoid shortfalls and blackouts. A vanadium redox battery provides the storage capacity, large and small to do so.

Increased Profitability and Savings:

• Even out the short term frequency and voltage fluctuations from renewable energy output to add predictability to the supply chain

• Adding predictability to the supply chains allows operators to increase grid sales and achieve better prices by matching supply to demand peaks

• By charging the storage battery at off peak times for release in peak time, you can save money on you energy bills

• Governments worldwide are starting to offer green tax incentives in order to increase investment in renewable energy and low carbon projects, energy storage may be included in these incentives depending on location.

• Low cost for large storage capacities. Cost per kWh decreases as energy storage capacity increases

Increased Reliability:

• Due to the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources there is a mismatch between supply and demand. By integrating an energy storage system, energy can be time shifted to when it is needed most

• Existing systems can be readily upgraded and additional storage capacity can be easily installed by changing the tanks and volumes of electrolyte with easy maintenance

• Capacity and state-of-charge of the system can be easily monitored, by employing an open-circuit cell

• Easy Maintenanceiv

Market Outlook / Potential for VRBs


In 2008, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the Executive Order S-14-08 requiring that ... “[a]ll retail sellers of electricity shall serve 33 percent of their load with renewable energy by 2020". The following year in 2009, the California Air Resources Board enacts regulations to make sure the goal of 33% by 2020 is met.

To meet the ambitious 33 percent by 2020 goal, Senate Bill X1-2 was signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., in April 2011. This new renewable portfolio standard (RPS) preempts the California Air Resources Boards' 33 percent Renewable Electricity Standard and applies to all electricity retailers in the state including publicly owned utilities (POUs), investor-owned utilities, electricity service providers, and community choice aggregators. All of these entities must adopt the new RPS goals of 20 percent of retails sales from renewables by the end of 2013, 25 percent by the end of 2016, and the 33 percent requirement being met by the end of 2020.v

September 3, 2013 Commissioner Carla J. Peterman breaks new ground with 81 page proposal in seeking to establish a regulatory regime in which utilities, third-party storage providers, and even customer-owned storage assets can play an integrated role in energy storage.vi

California’s Assembly Bill 2514 directed the state Public Utilities Commission to establish targets for energy storage. In October of last year 2013, the PUC directed the California utilities to obtain 1,325 MW of storage by 2020.

California Public Utilities Commission asked Southern California Edison (SCE) to source more than 50 megawatts of energy storage in the Los Angeles area over the next 8 years.vii

Renewable Energy Dynamics Technology Ltd.’s (REDT) vanadium redox batteries have the potential to solve the two major obstacles to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles: excessive down time for recharging, and short-lived, high-cost batteries. REDT has developed a patent on the Electric Vehicle Refuelling System (EVRS) used in conjunction with Vanadium Redox Flow Technology. With such a system, an electric vehicle powered by an REDT vanadium redox battery could be instantly recharged by removing the spent electrolyte and simultaneously replacing it with charged electrolyte.viii

New York:

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority created incentives for battery storage if units are installed and operational by 2016. Current incentives for battery storage are $2100/kW. Demand for battery storage comes after the looming closure of the Indian Point nuclear power plant.

New York City utility Con Edison has submitted a proposal to furnish 100 megawatts of load reduction measures by 2016 that include energy storage, demand response and energy efficiency.ix


With Senate Bill 20: Texas is to receive at least 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, surpassed California in wind-power production, to become the top wind-producing state in the U.S. ERCOT maintained this lead in 2007 after producing more than 8,000 megawatts (MW) of wind power and in December of 2010, ERCOT’s wind output reached 25.8 percent of the company’s load (9,528 MW), a record high to date.xi


The city of Painesville, Ohio and its partners’ installed a vanadium redox battery at the 32 megawat, coal-fired Painesville Municipal Electric Plant (PMEP). The goal of this installation is to understand if its capacity is sufficient for Painesville and to evaluate the benefits of energy storage, assess its uses in optimizing power generation efficiency, and facilitate American Municipal Power with leveling the peak demands of the system.xii

British Columbia:

February 2014, Yoho National Park in the Canadian Rockies, received a 1-megawatt sodium-sulfur battery bank from its utility, BC Hydro. The utility chose S&C to procure and install the energy system, which includes NGK batteries, S&C’s PureWave storage management system and IntelliRupter automated switches for the distribution grid. Battery Storage is expensive, but so is shipping diesel fuel to remote towns and cities.xiii


German Renewable Energy Sources (EGG) Act 2014: The goal of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) is to speed up the market launch of technologies for electricity production from wind power, solar radiation, biomass, geothermal power and hydropower. Gross electricity consumption of renewable energy shall increase to:

• 40 to 45 percent by 2025

• 55 to 60 percent by 2035

• 80 percent by 2050xiv

According to recent figures from the German Energy Agency (dena), by 2030, the installation of 551 megawatts of battery storage will save 241.6 million euros annually.

Yunicos, (located in Schwerin, Germany, installed Europe’s first commercial battery park pilot-project will start generating electricity from wind and solar power) examined 27 of the most promising battery storage technologies and 3 were chosen: Li-Ion, Sodium-Sulfur and Vanadium Redox Battery.xvi


Japan remains the world leader in large-scale grid energy storage, with hundreds of megawatts of high-temperature sodium sulfur batteries made by market leader NGK to help manage the country’s wind power.

Japan’s Tomamae wind farm on Hokkaido Island, whose 4MW of vanadium redox flow battery storage is used to smooth out wind-generated energy peaks and troughs, is the first. The Japanese island of Hokkaido, the Minami Hayakita substation is planning 15MW more of Sumitomo storage. In 2013 The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said it is investing 20 billion yen ($203 million) on a Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. device to be used by Hokkaido island’s utility to store excess solar and wind power, stabilizing flows to consumers. Since the earthquake in 2011, Japan has redoubled work to upgrade power systems and spur exports that can revitalize the economy.

China plans to have 100 gigawatts of wind power online by 2015, compared to about 20 last year, and plans to invest about 300 billion yuan ($47.2 billion) per year in power grid improvements over the next decade to handle it.

In China, the Zhangbei National Wind and Solar Energy Storage and Transmission Demonstration Project has a 2MW vanadium redox flow battery provided by Prudent Energy. Prudent Energy also supplies an additional 500kW of flow storage to help ensure grid stability.xvii


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