Vanadium producers enter flow battery space, offering lower costs through vertical integration

August 30, 2021 | Case Study

Vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFBs) are the most mature flow battery technology, with systems reaching hundreds of MW for a single project. Due to the nature of the electrolyte chemistry, VRFBs achieve a significantly longer cycle life than other electrolytes in flow batteries and can truly decouple power and energy, unlike hybrid flow batteries, which are limited by electrode surface area. As the active redox metal in the aqueous electrolyte, vanadium cost dominates the total electrolyte cost. Growing demand for vanadium in other industrial sectors, such as steel and automotive, has the potential to disrupt low-cost VRFB energy storage. Vanadium is primarily extracted as a byproduct of other mining activities, sourced from phosphate rock, magnetite, or sandstone; therefore, scaling up supply is less straightforward than with other raw materials. Furthermore, three regions in the world dominate supply: China, Russia, and South Africa. As a result of the accelerating demand for vanadium in energy storage, natural resource companies have turned their sights to entering the VRFB business.

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