‘Flow batteries on a budget’: Avalon renting electrolytes as a service

Date: Feb 22, 2019

Flow batteries on site at Sandbar Solar HQ, Northern California. The site is actually around 50 yards from a grid connection, but Sandbar president Scott Luskey and team opted for the 24/7 solar-plus-storage option. Image: Avalon Battery.

Flow battery maker Avalon has initiated a novel business model aimed at lowering the cost of deployment of its energy storage units, effectively ‘renting’ the electrolytes in the devices to a customer in California.

The new headquarters of Sandbar Solar, a solar installation company based in Northern California, runs off a microgrid system that has an Avalon Battery vanadium flow battery energy storage system at its heart.

Integrated by microgrid controls solution provider Ageto Energy, the flow battery is designed to allow the grid-independent facilities to run on solar 24/7, which a lithium-ion battery solution would not be capable of providing.

According to Avalon’s company blog, the customer needed a battery capable of unlimited charge and discharge cycles, combined with the software to control and integrate solar, storage and backup power generation.

For the project to be completed on a budget, as Sandbar Solar’s president Scott Laskey required, Avalon decided to offer the batteries on a service basis, with the novel hook being that it’s the vanadium electrolytes in the scalable tanks which are being rented to Sandbar. Other storage ‘as a service’ business models typically offer rental of the whole system or even deployment on a no-money-down basis as energy storage provider and customer share savings or revenues a battery could provide. 

In Avalon’s case, the vanadium which stores energy in the system will also retain its value up to 100%, providing residual value and recyclability to the manufacturer. 

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