Vanadium Redox Flow Battery Presentation From Gildemeister (Exclusive Video)

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If you can’t tell, I’ve been catching up and finally getting some videos published that I filmed a long time back. This one is a vanadium redox flow battery presentation from Tom Tipple, Head of Emerging Markets for Gildemeister Energy Solutions, at January’s World Future Energy Summit, part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week*. Tom discusses what a vanadium redox flow battery is, its key benefits, and (of course) Gildemeister’s product.

Some key points are that vanadium redox flow batteries are very useful for wind curtailment, to store solar power for use later in the day or the next day, in practically any remote situations where a generator is being used for backup power, at EV charging stations, where there’s an unreliable grid, and for peak shaving. Ideal use of vanadium redox flow batteries is when you have a discharge time in the hours, between 10 kW and 10 MW in power capacity, and when a lot of cycling is needed.

Key benefits vanadium redox flow batteries have are that they can be cycled continuously (“unlimited number of cycles”), they have a long lifespan (>20 years easily), power and energy capacity can be sized separately, they have a fairly low LCOE, a large surge capacity is possible (400% over 10 seconds), they have an “almost unlimited lifespan of the energy sources,” they can charge quickly, roundtrip efficiency is ~80%, and they are nontoxic.

Gildemeister’s vanadium redox flow batteries cost about $1000/kWh. Here’s the full presentation and Tom’s answer to a question about price:

*Full Disclosure: My trip to Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week was hosted by Masdar, the host of the event. However, I had full control over the content I produced.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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18 thoughts on “Vanadium Redox Flow Battery Presentation From Gildemeister (Exclusive Video)

  • So that’s a 20% energy penalty plus finance charges of $1,000/kWh.

    1. This means that the difference in price between peak and off-peak use better be more than 20%.

    2. The price tag of $1,000/kWh and at an annual interest rate of 10% means that your 1 kWh has to earn at least $0.28/day to break even. This is way more than the price per kWh of electricity. And you can only save 0.80 kWh/day from the 1 kWh unit capacity when cycling through peak and off-peak rates.

    WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? We shouldn’t even waste our time talking to them. It is infeasible, no matter if their batteries have infinite life span.

    • What are you talking about ? Finance charge is not $1,000/kWh;

      The finance charge is based on $1,000/kWh

      what is your point with the efficiency, every storage system has a deficiency in that area, (including lithium) and when it comes to bulk storage application that is easily overcome due to reduced line losses during peak

      What is this annual 10% are you trying to be difficult ? right now I can get project development financing at a much cheaper rate than 10%.

      The price of $1,000/kWh is very low compared to the price of the California Lithuim ion 32MWH project that came in at $1,650/kWh, plus your calculations did not take into account the peak demand charge revenue opportunity; lets say its $13.00/kW depending on where you are located but lets call that an avg. + opportunity of ancillary services (ancillary market) to the grid operator.

      Energy storage is more than storing ions there are services to be supplied from UPS to power factor and volt support that are valuable to the grid operator

      • No energy storage tech is going anywhere beyond niche applications (frequency regulation, power factor, etc) if it costs $500/kWh, let alone $1000+/kWh.

        The question is which tech will go below $200/kWh installed, because that’s when storage is cheaper than peakers for a substantial portion of demand. Current install costs tell you nothing about that, especially since they are mainly related to power handling, not storage capacity.

        Many battery technologies have material costs below $100/kWh: Lithium ion, sodium ion, zinc air, liquid metal, etc. The vanadium redox flow battery is not one of them. It’ll be irrelevant within 5 years, as companies are already on pace to deliver <$250/kWh solutions in a couple years:

        Check out JB Straubel's presentation on stationary storage:

        The last question in particular tells you how low they can get balance of system costs (sub $0.1/W).

    • I do recall him talking about bulk applications not a 1kWh unit. He even stated they did not have a residential unit. If you want to compare apples and apples lets talk

      • We are talking about per unit of kWh for simpler numerical analysis not to have physically 1 kWh units! You can talk in terms of 100 MWh units but make sure all the costs are scaled up as well, but to simplify things, let us use the price basis of 1 kWh.

        And my main points that you can’t escape:
        1. The roundtrip loss is 20%, this is the inherent cost of using this particular storage, well many storage tech have round trip losses, but nonetheless it is a cost that needs to be justified or paid for by the difference in peak and off-peak rates.

        2. The off-peak charging and discharging during peak is on a daily basis which means that:

        a) you cannot save more than 0.80 kWh per day per kWh of battery.

        b) daily cycle means that your investment is constrained by time and it has to compete with other opportunities of investment, and that opportunity cost or interest rate can be computed on a daily basis.

        If you have money will you buy this battery for your business? Show me what is the maximum possible daily income if you buy and use this battery given today’s wholesale electricity prices!

        If that money is invested elsewhere, will the earning from that battery be able to compete?

        The answer without a doubt is NO! That battery is useless piece of financial blackhole. It is better for you to put your money elsewhere!

        If they can bring down the price of battery, then perhaps, for now it is infeasible.

        • Let me try and take this point by point:

          1. At the same time you want to count the efficiency loss you discount the fact that it is mitigated, when placed in a distributed placement on the local grid. This has value to the utility and comes into play when negotiating tariffs, efficiency losses are offset.

          2. Your knowledge is limited. Any time you make a decision to invest you compete against opportunity returns (nothing new here) and don’t ask dumb hypothetical questions for which there is no possible answer.

          There are quantitative and qualitative value that the battery could add to my business. Quantitative could be power quality and volt support which would reduce my energy consumption (energy efficiency) and peak shaving which could be as much as 30-70% of my electric bill depending on my business, If I am running 2-3 shifts, nite time peak comes into play.

          Qualitatively, if we happen to get that 100 year storm (Sandy) I can stay up and running and provide emergency power to the neighborhood if part of a microgrid system.

          Maybe not a 100 year storm but a lousy grid that keeps going down and is causing me 10’s of thousands of dollars annually in lost production, goods and labor costs

          You still have not shown me any true numbers but a bunch of hypervilly. Forget wholesale pricing, what part of peak charge don’t you understand ? we are talking dollars not cents!! per kW

          I guess the other batteries are junk too since the system cost is more? what about $1,650/kWh for Lithuim dont you get

          • dumb, dumb. did i not say compare apples to apples. you want to completely ignore published li ion battery system costs in favor of you going out and buying a battery pack for grid applications are you stupid. even the developers are not going to quote that, so far you have not shown me how you arrived at your numbers which were erroneous. you talk about cost but ignore the revenue side of the calculation as though you do not understand, a battery pack does not equate to a working system for wind application. i knew there were some unintelligent people blogging but you take the cake

          • Bink, how can I message you privately? I need some advice.

    • Funny enough, in Southern California, Gil Onions buys cheap overnight power at about 7 cents/kwh and uses it during the day when SCE charges 35 cents/kwh. In the design they use there’s a ~15% penalty.

  • How about we act a bit more like adults?

    Find a way to exchange information in a more civilized manner or take it elsewhere.

    • Bob, I will do as you ask, but maybe you can look at the posts and plot a path forward here. She seems to be conveniently ignoring facts when it suits her argument. My arguments are based on published information and methodology.

      For instance I accept her argument around efficiency losses, yet she ignores methods of placing storage in a distributed fashion and charging at night to mitigate those losses during peak, where lines losses can exceed 20%.

      The biggest transgression is her not acknowledging peak demand charges on the revenue side nor does she acknowledge the value of storage to prevent back feeding and deliver that additional wind power when it is of most value, preventing the grid operator from going to the more expensive wholesale market, or to prevent the building of additional capacity while lowering reserve margins.

      There is story, after story about the true cost of lithuim battery for grid and the degradation that occurs. The price is going to be higher for certain application because of the capacity losses resulting in battery replacement.

      You guys carried a story tiled “North Americas Largest Battery,” in California, which happened to be a Li ion installation, the published cost of that project was $53.5 MM USD for 32MWH that works out to $1,672/kWh versus the $1,000/kWh quoted in this story but she chooses to ignore that fact

      UET (UniEnergy Technologies) published VRB battery pricing is even lower at $750.00 , less than half the California installation and I am sure there is more to come from other VRB manufacturers regarding lower pricing due to innovations they are trying to commercialize.

      Remember, this is not at the scale (volume) in terms of MW’s that lithium ion is being deployed, just scaling to a significant level will drive down prices even further without innovation.

      The video speaks for itself regarding the robustness of the system.

      Southern and Company tested a lithuim battery for peak shaving for over a year and the battery rapidly degraded (capacity loss) due to exceeding recommended dod and ambient temprature

      • I’m not going to referee. Just request that the two of you pull back from the hard stuff and see if you can communicate better.

        “Southern and Company tested a lithuim battery for peak shaving for over a year and the battery rapidly degraded (capacity loss) due to exceeding recommended dod and ambient temprature”

        That was the test where they stuck the batteries in a metal container out in full sunlight?

        If so, no one should ever use that as an example of lithium battery degrading. That was an example of battery mistreatment.

        • I did not say referee, I requested some impartiality here. The S&C demonstration battery did not degrade due to the heat it was partially due to the cold (polar vortex) that swept through the south in recent years and the other larger factor that was attributed for the capacity loss or degradation was using the battery for peak shaving application.

          All I was saying when I made the statement to compare apples to apples is a home system and an EV application is not the same as stationary grid storage for wind , PV or DR (demand response) where the battery is put through functions and applications that would cause the costs to escalate for certain technologies.

          For instance lithium ion batteries discharge capacity is under two hours than it has to recharge. It may work well for power applications (frequency and balancing) where there are short shallow bursts of power but not so much for peak shaving where you have to discharge to 0% or load following where you are cycling hundreds of times a month or days (as in wind applications).

          A two hour battery would not be adequate for a four hour peak period or curve, therefore you would have to upsize the battery (100%) at almost twice the cost per /kWh and taking into account you would have to replace the battery frequently as evidenced by the IEEE, S&C smart grid demonstration, you can see the problem here.

          Even if you did not upsize the battery, replacement would not go away due to the fact you discharge to 0 capacity. The lithium battery is not robust compared to VRB nor does it have the long cycle life without battery replacement.

          Another factor here is, what market is more valuable ancillary or capacity (DR), no one disputes that capacity markets are significantly higher compensated than ancillary and DR or energy efficiency is more valued.

          When we talk battery economics you cannot leave out the revenue side.

          Not only that but VRB has quick response capabilities to generate additional compensation competing against Lithium in the ancillary services market. I would only use VRB in that scenario if bulk storage (capacity) were also available. VRB’s need to be cycled continuously to derive the full financial potential of the system. I hope this answers some of your questions belowyour

  • bink, let me ask a question or two.

    This article says vanadium flow batteries at $1,000 kWh and for all practical consideration unlimited cycling. 80% round trip efficiency.

    The lithium batteries that Tesla is using are apparently being sold to Tesla for $180/kWh and may take 3,000 cycles before they drop to 80% capacity. 75% round trip efficiency.

    Is that accurate in your opinion? Is there a better/cheaper lithium battery on the market? Or a better/cheaper vanadium battery available today?

    (I’m just trying to get the players straight before continuing on.)

    • That’s probably not a fair comparison because $180/kWh (seems a bit low) is only for cells.

      But given that Tesla is selling a whole 85kWh car for $80k, including a 270kW 3-phase inverter and motor, it’s obvious that they can profitably sell stationary storage for well under $500/kWh, and they can build power electronics for way less $100/kW.

    • first Bob the 80% for the American VRB is a DC buss not AC; AC will be around 70-75% (due to pumps, etc). The $1,000/kWh is on an installed basis not just the batteries.

      The cheapest part of a VRB is its BOP (balance of plant) which consisit of off the shelf, tanks, (industrial) pumps and PV (plumbing)

      Next cheapest is the electrolyte itself, because of decoupled power and energy components and rating, increasing energy capacity is as easy as increasing electrolyte volume.

      That is why as you scale VRB energy capacity up the per kWh price actually drops and because you can discharge for 15+ hours you can pair with PV and discharge for even longer periods without incurring in increase in VRB system costs.

      Another configuration is I can take a 500/kW /4hr battery and run it at 275kW for 8 hours (even longer at lower power rating) or peak power at 600kW for 2 hours without recharging.

      The other important thing mentioned in the article is the ability to absorb 400% surge capacity for a limited period. That functionality is important to a whole lot of industries and services

      Better (lower) supplier contracts will come with scale and the many sources of vanadium that are now opening up, luckily these systems do not need a higher purity of vanadium

      • Hi Bink,

        I have limited knowledge with regards to Vanadium Redox batteries. I met Mr Andreas Feichtinger of Gildermeister Energy Solutions in a Solar Show here in my country( ended yesterday). He told me that the cost of a 10KW VRB is about 80,000 euros or 8,000 euros per kw. The said cost cost is quite big compared to what you are discussing which is US$ 1000 per kw. May I get the price of a 10 KW system installed here in Manila, Philippines?

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