Vanadium flow batteries and solar to deliver clean power on demand
Yadlamalka, South Australia will take centre stage in the race to decarbonize our global electricity system when the world’s largest solar-powered vanadium flow battery (VFB) comes online there next year. In this pioneering project, a VFB supplied by Invinity Energy Systems (LSE:IES) will charge from a solar PV array and provide power to the local grid on demand.
Yadlamalka Energy Trust has developed this innovative $20m AUD project, combining an 8 MWh VFB with a 6 MWp solar array, to unlock low-cost, low-emission energy for the Australian grid, producing approximately 10 GWh of ‘dispatchable’ solar power each year.
The vanadium flow battery will charge from electricity produced by solar panels when the sun is at its peak. This electricity can then be delivered when it is most needed, such as in the evening when grid loads are high from consumer demand, but solar generation is no longer available. By using vanadium flow batteries to complete this ‘time shift’, solar power becomes ‘dispatchable’, meaning it can be deployed to the grid when it is most valuable, at any time of day or night.
Creating South Australia’s first dispatchable solar power plant
Australia’s rapid uptake of renewable energy in recent years has driven the need for investment in flexible energy storage technologies to manage the variable output from those generation sources. The Yadlamalka Energy project provides a glimpse into the future of electricity grids in Australia and around the world. It has been supported by ARENA, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, with a significant grant of $5.7m AUD.
Yadlamalka Energy Trust founder and chairman, Andrew Doman, commented on the motivation and support behind the project:
“Yadlamalka Energy Trust is excited about being the first in Australia to construct a large scale dispatchable power plant. Through using breakthrough technology in the form of vanadium flow batteries, we can deliver strong, economic infrastructure benefit to South Australia and at the same time support a low carbon economy.
We hugely appreciate ARENA’s support and look forward to working with them on this exciting project to enable a sustainable energy future for Australia.
Our excellent team at Yadlamalka Energy have provided invaluable support through the development phase of the project, and include partners Invinity Energy Systems, Habitat Energy and DCD Electric and project managers Switchco and Birdwood Energy. We will continue to work closely as we start construction with commissioning expected at the end of 2021.”
ARENA’s CEO, Darren Miller, suggested that vanadium flow batteries have an important role in addressing key storage issues, as highlighted in the Government’s Low Emissions Technology Statement:
“The strong uptake of variable renewable energy has highlighted the need for increasing storage requirements and vanadium flow batteries could play a major role in addressing the emerging need for medium-duration storage, complementing the role of more established technologies such as pumped hydro energy storage and lithium ion batteries in the Australian market.”
“We look forward to working with Yadlamalka Energy on this exciting project to demonstrate the benefits of vanadium flow batteries connected to the grid, particularly the ability to shift renewable energy generation into more valuable evening peak pricing periods, improving competitiveness in the market.”
Matt Harper, Chief Commercial Officer, Invinity added: “South Australia demonstrates that the majority of a region’s electricity needs can be served by clean, renewable sources. The catch is that the power of solar needs to be tamed and delivered on command; only then can carbon-intensive sources of electricity be idled for good. Invinity’s vanadium flow batteries are the best solution for absorbing solar-generated power and delivering it at any time of day. We’re very excited to be working with Yadlamalka Energy to deliver clean power on demand to South Australia for decades to come.”
In addition to “time shifting” solar generation, the VFB will provide Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS) to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), delivering vital flexibility to the electricity network when required to help balance out spikes in demand and generation.
The VFB will be dispatched by Habitat Energy (Habitat), an optimisation and trading platform for renewable and grid-scale battery storage assets. Habitat works with UK and European assets, but this is their first major asset optimisation project in Australia.
Greg Billman, Executive Director for Habitat, Australia, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Yadlamalka Energy, and working with ARENA and Invinity to maximise the revenue on this exciting and innovative asset. It is emblematic of our establishment in the Australian storage asset market and proves our ability to translate our demonstrated track record of operational and value delivery in the UK to other energy markets around the world. I am looking forward to seeing great returns for our partners and to many more battery storage innovations coming in the future.”
Vanadium flow batteries (VFBs)
First developed at the University of New South Wales in the 1980s, VFBs are a leading alternative to more well-known lithium-ion batteries in stationary energy storage applications.
Larger and more durable than lithium-ion batteries, Invinity’s VFBs are well suited to heavy-duty applications such as ‘time shifting’ renewables because daily charge and discharge cycles do not degrade a VFB’s capacity even after decades of service. They are also non-flammable and can operate effectively in hot climates without the need for additional fire suppression systems. They do not contain conflict minerals and are almost completely recyclable at end of life, a significant advantage over lithium-ion.
The key working element inside a VFB – vanadium – is sustainably sourced, with deposits in regions across the world, including Australia.
This project demonstrates that vanadium flow battery energy storage is heading to maturity with a leading role to play in the global transition to renewable energy. The market for this technology expected to exceed $4.25 billion by 2028*.
These characteristics make VFBs an ideal complement for utility-scale deployment alongside intermittent renewables such as solar PV, and as a future component of a decarbonized Australian electricity grid.
Matt Harper, Chief Commercial Officer, Invinity and Andrew Doman, Chairman, Yadlamalka Energy Trust are available for interview on request.
For media enquiries, please contact:
Invinity Energy Systems
Joe Worthington, Director of Communications
Jordina Evins, Chief Communications Officer
Max Boon, Account Director
Notes to editors
Vanadium Redox Flow battery technology
Vanadium flow batteries are a form of heavy-duty, stationary energy storage, used primarily in high-utilisation applications such as being coupled with industrial scale solar generation for distributed, low-carbon energy projects.
Vanadium flow batteries store energy in a non-flammable, liquid electrolyte, held in tanks within a self-contained module. Larger, safer and more robust than lithium-ion systems, flow batteries do not degrade with cycling like conventional batteries and have a 25 year lifetime, significantly longer than comparable lithium-ion solutions.
This key characteristic means vanadium flow batteries are well suited to heavy duty, daily use alongside intermittent renewables such as solar, storing excess energy at times of peak generation then discharging it when required.
Vanadium flow batteries are increasingly being used in this manner to create low-cost, low-carbon, accessible energy ‘on-demand’ from renewable sources, replacing conventional fossil-fuel based generation and enabling the global transition to 100% renewables.
Inside the VFB, two separate tanks of vanadium electrolyte with different charges are connected to a central fuel cell stack. Electrolyte from the tanks is pumped through the fuel cell stack, where an ion exchange occurs across a membrane. When this exchange occurs, a reversible electrochemical reaction takes place, allowing electrical energy to be stored and subsequently returned. The technology relies on the ability of vanadium to exist in four different oxidation states (V2+, V3+, V4+ and V5+), each of which holds a different electrical charge.
About Yadlamalka Energy
Yadlamalka Energy Trust was founded by Andrew Doman, an Australian who splits his time between the UK and Australia. An entrepreneur, he is driven by a desire to work with innovative technologies to combat climate change and accelerate sustainable energy production. Understanding the energy challenges facing Australia and in particular, South Australia, Yadlamalka Energy has created a medium-duration energy storage solution to the intermittent power supply challenges in South Australia, using the breakthrough technology of vanadium flow batteries.
Yadlamalka Energy comprises a leading team of global energy and construction specialists, who will develop, construct and commission the project under the leadership of Andrew Doman.
The University of South Australia, is a knowledge sharing partner, who with ARENA and the project partners, will contribute to the publication of a series of reports on the performance of vanadium flow batteries, with the aim to encourage wider adoption.
Visit www.yadlamalkaenergy.com for further information
Invinity is the world’s leading flow battery company, active across North America, the UK, mainland Europe, Australasia, Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.
Developed specifically for high-utilisation applications, Invinity’s highly scalable, factory-built flow battery products make low-carbon renewable generation reliable and can run continually with no degradation, charging and discharging for over 25 years. Energy storage systems based on Invinity’s batteries are safe, reliable, and economical, and range in size from less than 250 kilowatt-hours to tens of megawatt-hours.
The company has a portfolio of more than 40 energy storage projects already in operation worldwide and is headquartered in London, UK and Vancouver, Canada, with regional presence in the USA, South Africa and China. Invinity Energy Systems plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange (AIM:IES).
Visit Invinity’s website for more information.
Energy Habitat Energy delivers the full potential of flexible electricity assets using its proprietary advanced optimisation and trading platform. It provides optimisation, trading and full route-to-market services to owners of grid-scale battery storage and other flexible energy assets to help them meet their investment goals. Habitat Energy has close partnerships with many of the industry’s biggest developers and investors, supporting the design and financing of new-build projects through our understanding of the revenue model and broader market dynamics, backed up by the ability to deliver revenues once assets are built.
Visit the Habitat Energy website
*According to IDTechEx report Redox Flow Batteries 2018-2028: Markets, Trends, Applications