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VSUN eyes household market for vanadium batteries, and local manufacturing

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One Step Off The Grid

VSUN Energy, the storage offshoot of mining group Australian Vanadium, says it is now looking to the household market for its vanadium redox flow batteries and is also looking at a local manufacturing facility.

australian_vanadium_gildemeister_cell_cube_358In yet another sign of the increased competition in the Australian energy storage market, VSUN on Thursday said it had received more than 80 unsolicited requests for domestic storage devices, even though it had previously focused on larger systems in the commercial and industrial sector.

Until now its smallest product was a 10kW/100kWh battery useful for farms and industrial premises and the like, but it says it is now looking at a 5kW, 20kWh system suitable for homes.

“I just installed solar on my house, 5kW that is generating an average 20kWh from my system, I’m using about 10kWh and the rest I am sending back to Western Power at 7c/kWh,” managing director Vincent Algar told RenewEconomy. “If I can have a few hours of storage of 5kW, that should cover my needs.”

VSUN Energy says vanadium batteries are attractive because of their ability to store large amounts of energy, their 20 year lifespan, a very high cycle performance, minimal degradation, and are considered safe and non-flammable..

The company says it is currently finalising initial market reviews and partner discussions and will then undertake a feasibility study into developing a residential VRB product in Australia, and to establish a local manufacturing facility, adding casing, pipes and pumps to the vanadium stacks produced by Gildemeister.

Local manufacturing will also reduce the cost of transportation and therefore the cost of batteries to Australian customers.

“Home owners are looking for a battery which offers enough hours of storage to safely carry them through their overnight power requirements,” Algar says. “We want to be part of that delivery through VSUN Energy. It’s a fertile market.”

The company is also looking at a commercial electrolyte plant, which would enable VSUN Energy to source vanadium electrolyte locally and at a competitive price. Vanadium electrolyte is a key component of VRBs.

Algar also said VSUN had submitted expressions of interest to the battery storage tender called by South Australia, and to both tenders being conducted by the Victorian government. Algar says VSUN was focused on smaller, distributed installations of up to 25MWh rather than one installation of 100MWh.

This article was originally published on RenewEconomy’s sister site, One Step Off The Grid, which focuses on customer experience and ambitions with distributed generation. To sign up to One Step’s free weekly newsletter, please click here.

  

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  • Peter F

    It seems the sweet spot for domestic batteries is 5kW but if you have an electric oven, an two induction hotplates and two small split systems and some lighting going you need 6-7kW peak, 10-12kWhrs should be enough but a bit more power would be good

    • Mike Dill

      Peter: Unless you are feeding a large family in the middle of summer, you probably do not need to run everything in the house at the same time. Staging the demand is relatively easy to do, with a small amount of planning.

      Yes running a household off of a battery and inverter system takes some thought, and those people who cannot be bothered should stay on the grid and pay the price.

      • Peter F

        Mike you are right, it can be done if you think about it a bit, but people don’t have to think at the moment and we saw an article here a few days ago about the “Off grid guy being unhappy with his system”. The last thing you want to think about when you get home after a hot day is whether it is the oven or the airconitioner and make sure the pool pump is not running or the electric garage door does not open just as the oven cycles on.
        Just add an extra 2-3kW peak capacity even if it is only 30 minutes and the problem goes away. You don’t even have to add energy capacity 5kW hours will do a lot of cooking and another five will run most houses through the night

    • Damien van Hoogen van

      I’m not sure about induction plates, but ovens and resistance hotplates cycle on and off. So nominal power may be 3kW for and oven however it probably wont use it’s max power and will only be on 50% of the time (my oven has duty cycle 50% and average power draw of 2kW ish). Both obviously use much more power at startup but then drop off when the reach temperature.

    • Ian

      These things are flow batteries, their design advantage is that any sized storage of electrolyte can be achieved. They could design the reaction chamber to cover 5 to 10 KW output and have any amount of storage, maybe enough for 5 days, say 100 KWH. That would be a true off grid battery. This is a flowbattery’s strong point. No need to compete with lithium for cranking power, that’s not really needed. The storage mantra is energy capacity, capacity, capacity – lots of KWH.

      Red flow had a good product but they thought that they had to compete head to head with lithium. ie KW matching KWH, they were sitting on something so much better: enough KW output but plenty,plenty KWH at potentially low cost.

      I hope these people don’t throw away this opportunity.

  • Lightfoot

    20kWh storage in a Safe Vanadium Redox flow Battery, with 100% DOD (Assuming same as Redflow) 5kW peak discharge rate and a 20 year lifespan? Yes please! Move over all forms of Lithium, and reliable old VRLA, the future is bright and the Australian Residential solar market is eager for something like you to come along.

    • Ren Stimpy

      No mention of cost. Lithium won’t just move over. This new tech will have to better it on cost, and really the deciding factor will be – do these new types of battery have comparable economies of scale (manufacturing scalability – replicatability, automatability, etc.) to that of lithium batteries?

      • Ian

        You don’t have to Barrack for one form of storage vs another. The different types could be cobbled together. Rapidly charged and discharged ultracapacitors for spikes in energy demand or production. Lithium for its high cranking power, and flow batteries for their mass storage capacity.

  • humanitarian solar

    I’m keen too. Will be looking to put together a second system on my property in the next few years and expecting FITs to remain low.