Two vanadium redox startups join to take on the $0 billion flow-battery market.

The newly-merged Invinity Energy Systems said it will focus on solar-plus-storage projects for its vanadium redox flow technology.

California’s Avalon and the U.K.’s redT are merging their vanadium redox flow battery firms, subject to shareholder approval, to form Invinity Energy Systems. The new firm is valued at $70 million in a deal that the companies have been threatening for months.

The merger was structured as a reverse takeover of listed company Avalon by private company redT on a share-for-share basis, the Greenhouse PR company tasked with announcing the deal told pv magazine. The new business will be headquartered in the U.K. and Canada, added the PR firm.

Flow batteries have minimal degradation, a purported 20- to 25-year lifetime and use a non-flammable, liquid electrolyte. The newly merged company is focused on solar-plus-storage grid-scale projects.

Portfolios and pipelines

Invinity claims a 40-plus global project portfolio and development pipeline that includes a 2 MW battery system for the $49.5 million Energy Superhub Oxford project, due to go live this year that includes a 50 MW lithium-ion battery from Finnish energy company Wärtsilä.

redT joined with Norwegian renewables business Statkraft to offer the first power purchase agreement-based vanadium-flow-plus-solar commercial solution for U.K. businesses. RedT’s vanadium flow systems were also the first of their kind to pre-qualify to offer dynamic firm frequency response services to the U.K. electricity transmission network.

Avalon was founded in 2013 and has deployed more than 160 of its flow battery modules, according to the company. NEXTracker CEO, Dan Shugar, noted the lack of degradation in the Avalon battery at his tracker test facility in Fremont, California.

Long-duration storage always on the cusp of commercialization

Makers of vanadium flow batteries have hoped for mass-commercialization of longer-duration energy storage for twenty years but have never been able to reach volumes of scale. The steep price drop in lithium ion batteries has not helped market penetration for flow batteries, either.

More than 20 flow battery chemistries, including zinc-bromine, zinc-iron, zinc-cerium, and magnesium-vanadium, have been studied — but the most researched and closest to wide commercialization is the vanadium redox flow battery. Vanadium, the dominant cost in that electrolyte, is a metal mined in Russia, China and South Africa with reserves in the U.S. and Canada, and is used predominantly as a steel additive. Flow battery builders include firms such as UET, ViZn, Primus and Sumitomo.

ARPA-E has funded a number of long-duration technologies such as flow batteries, electricity-to-hydrogen, and thermal storage from startups like Antora. Venture capitalists have funded long-duration aspirants such as Form Energy and Quidnet.

Avalon Battery’s president, Matt Harper, was interviewed by pv magazine last year — he said that prices offered by leading flow battery manufacturers have come down 80% in less than five years.

Lazard, an asset manager quoted in the article, calculates that the levelized cost of storing electricity in some redox flow projects now overlaps with that of lithium-ion batteries, the main competition.

Sales of vanadium-flow batteries, the most established flow battery technology, are cited as growing from double digits to just over 200 MWh of installed storage capacity.

 

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