The lithium battery industry has been very mature, and the capital market has also bred Ningde era and other high-quality leaders. With so many routes for new energy batteries, will there be a black horse in this industry in the future? Vanadium battery has become one of the promising routes.

On July 31, the 10th China vanadium industry development forum, jointly sponsored by Sichuan vanadium titanium steel industry association and China ferroalloynet, was held in Chengdu. At the meeting, the technical route of vanadium battery became a hot topic in the industry. Many industry experts said that with the development of clean energy such as wind energy and solar energy, energy storage will bring huge demand for vanadium battery. Compared with lithium battery, vanadium battery has advantages in safety and energy storage capacity.

However, in order to complete the mature commercialization process of vanadium battery, high cost and other constraints need to be solved. Yan Chuanwei, a researcher at the Institute of metals, Chinese Academy of Sciences, said large-scale energy storage links are suitable for vanadium batteries.

Vanadium battery demand in scale power storage

At the 10th China vanadium industry development forum, the development of vanadium resources has become a hot topic.

“Accelerate the cultivation of modern industrial clusters of world-class vanadium, titanium and steel.” Zhai Gang, member of the Party group and deputy director of the Sichuan Provincial Economic and information department, said at the forum that Sichuan’s vanadium reserves accounted for about 63% of the total national reserves, and most of them were concentrated in Panxi, Sichuan. Among them, the vanadium industry of Panzhihua Iron and steel group ranks first in China and the world at present. In the “5 + 1” modern industrial system of Sichuan Province, it is proposed to speed up the construction of vanadium, titanium, steel, rare earth and other advanced material industries.

Vanadium battery, once a fire in 2018. With the rise of the concept of vanadium battery, the vanadium and titanium of Panzhihua Iron and Steel Co., Ltd. in 2018 was heated by funds due to its mastery of upstream resources. From September to October of that year, the share price of Panzhihua vanadium and titanium (000629, SZ) rose by more than 50%. However, the commercial application of vanadium battery has not made a breakthrough, so the scope of speculation can not be compared with the mature lithium battery plate.

In terms of scale, by the end of 2019, China has put into operation a cumulative installed capacity of 32.4gw, of which the cumulative installed capacity of electrochemical energy storage ranks the second. Among them, the cumulative installed capacity of lithium-ion battery is the largest, 1378.3mw, accounting for 80.6%; the installed capacity of flow battery represented by vanadium battery is only 20.52mw, accounting for 1.2%.

However, the installed capacity of vanadium battery is gradually increasing. According to the statistics of international vanadium Technical Committee, there are 113 vanadium battery projects in operation in the world, with a total installed capacity of 39.664mw and a total capacity of 209.8mwh.

Zhang Zhongyu, deputy chief engineer of Sichuan Xingming energy and Environmental Protection Technology Co., Ltd., said that in the first half of 2020, domestic and foreign vanadium battery production and application market had gradually become active.

“Vanadium battery is now in the early stage of commercialization, and it is mainly used in the energy storage link of new energy.” Zhang Zhongyu told the daily economic news that energy storage is the biggest advantage of vanadium battery, especially suitable for the energy storage link of wind power generation and photovoltaic power generation, “for example, photovoltaic power generation is mainly operated in the daytime, but what if there is no sunlight at night?”

Yan Chuanwei, a researcher at the Institute of metals, Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that the energy storage demand of the new energy industry chain is a rigid demand for flow batteries such as vanadium batteries.

“Energy storage must be energy safe and battery stability is required. In large-scale energy storage, the safety and stability of vanadium battery are very high. ” Yan Chuanwei told the daily economic news that according to the guiding opinions on promoting the development of energy storage technology and industry, with 10% as the proportion, the photovoltaic power generation energy storage will reach 6Gw by 2020, with the energy storage amount of 30 billion yuan.

Not only photovoltaic, but also there is a huge demand for energy storage.

Commercial breakthrough needs to reduce cost

Generally speaking, vanadium battery will be used to compare with lithium battery, but Yan Chuanwei thinks such comparison is not scientific. Yan Chuanwei said that lithium battery and vanadium battery have different application scenarios, different comparative advantages and different disadvantages. More importantly, lithium battery has entered mature commercial operation, and vanadium battery still has a long way to go from this market level.

“The theory and application of lithium battery are very mature, and the energy density is very high, which is an advantage. But vanadium batteries are used for scale power. ” Yan Chuanwei said that this involves different industrial links. Vanadium batteries are suitable for large capacity energy storage applications, while lithium batteries involve small capacity.

Based on different application scenarios, the technical advantages of the two batteries are also different. The charge and discharge of vanadium battery does not involve solid state reaction, and the loss of electrolyte is very small. Based on this advantage, vanadium battery used in large-scale power storage will reduce the power loss in the transmission phase. Moreover, the volume of vanadium battery is larger than that of lithium battery, which makes it difficult for it to be directly used in new energy vehicles, Zhang said.

However, it should be noted that although vanadium battery has demonstrated technical advantages in the field of energy storage, why is there no big breakthrough in the commercialization process?

“The main thing is that the cost is too high.” Zhang Zhongyu said that the theme of his report at the forum was to reduce the cost of vanadium battery. “Taking 10kW / 40kwh vanadium battery energy storage system as an example, the cost of energy storage system accounted for the largest proportion of vanadium electrolyte cost, accounting for 41% of the total cost, and the cost of power stack reached 37%, and the total cost of both reached 78%. The most effective way to reduce the price of vanadium battery is to reduce the production cost of vanadium electrolyte and stack.

Yan Chuanwei said that to reduce the stack cost is to develop low-cost materials and improve current density, and to reduce electrolyte cost is to have low-cost vanadium sources and low-cost technical routes. Zhang Zhongyu said that the material cost of vanadium battery is high, “mainly due to the lack of large-scale commercialization and lack of supporting enterprises. When the industry matures and economies of scale are established, the unit cost will be reduced. ”

On the other hand, Zhang Zhongyu believes that the vanadium battery industry has a high threshold, that is, the initial investment requirements are higher, “although the time cycle is prolonged, the overall cost is similar to that of lithium battery. But its initial investment is much higher. ” Therefore, it is necessary for Chuanwei to make clear its positioning in the vanadium industry chain.

Yan Chuanwei and Zhang Zhongyu both said that vanadium battery solved the economic problem, so the day of industrialization and commercialization could come soon. However, some people in the industry said that vanadium battery is a potential growth point of vanadium demand, but there is great uncertainty, “there is a certain prospect, which still needs to be verified by demonstration projects”. However, overall, the future of vanadium battery is still widely optimistic, and there will be demand for vanadium ore resources.

www.ferroalloynet.com