Vecco Group: $25m for Australia’s first vanadium battery plant.

Queensland-based Vecco Group will spend up to $25 million building Australia’s first vanadium battery plant in Brisbane.

Vecco Group and Australia’s first vanadium battery plant

According to InQueensland, Vecco Group have come to an agreement with China’s Shanghai Electric – one of the largest electrical equipment manufacturing companies in China – for an initial purchase of vanadium electrolytes (Confused about flow batteries? Click here to learn how a Vanadium Redox Battery works)

Thomas Northcott, Managing Director of Vecco Group said, “this is a significant step forward for Vecco in securing an integrated supply chain from our Debella Vanadium + HPA Project through to battery production.”

“We are excited to be capturing the first mover advantage in Australia and south east Asia for what is a rapidly growing market for large scale renewable energy storage.” Northcott continued in a press release from Vecco Group.

“Demand is currently strong and there is significant future demand supplying large long duration vanadium batteries to support green hydrogen projects around Australia.”

Vecco is also carrying out a pre-IPO to raise $5 million and is aiming at a full IPO next year.

As we continue with advancements in solar battery technology, it’s fantastic to see alternative options to lithium-ion – the flow batteries such as Redflow are awfully heavy but they have a great use case if the technology can continue improving at this rate. With that said, vanadium batteries have been proposed as early as the 1930’s and have been in production since the 1980’s, so they probably have some ground to make up.

Vecco Group Flow Battery example by Colintheone – https://avs.scitation.org/doi/10.1116/1.4983210, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59002803

The vanadium industry

The vanadium industry has progressed significantly in 2021 with multiple announcements, including one from from mining billionaire Robert Friedland’s company VRB Energy. VRB announced a 500MWh vanadium flow battery in March. Gigafactory in China and Sir Mick Davis, the ex-CEO of Xstrata are also invested in Kazakhstan based vanadium company Ferro-Alloy Resources.

Vanadium flow batteries last for 25 years, suffer no capacity degradation and a low environmental footprint, as the electrolyte is almost 100% recyclable.

Other companies working in the space include UniEnergy Technologies, StorEn Technologies, and Ashlawn Energy in the United States; Renewable Energy Dynamics Technology and VoltStorage in Europe; Prudent Energy in China;Australian Vanadium in Australia.

 

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4 Main Types Of Batteries For Solar Storage

(source: Unsplash.com)

When choosing a solar battery, there are various essential things to consider such as the battery’s lifespan, cost, how much power each battery can provide etc. There are multiple models of batteries which can store solar energy, all with advantages and disadvantages. The best ones for storage applications are recognized as the safest to use by the NEC 2020.  

Here below are the most trusted batteries currently available in the market for solar storage purposes.

Nickel Based Battery

Nickel-based batteries are used on a large scale for energy storage purposes because their characters perform well in all kinds of temperatures. Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) is the most common technique used.  Nickel-based batteries have been used in large-scale energy storage projects as they perform well in all types of temperatures. Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) is the most common Nickel-based battery technology used with the lowest cost than the other batteries. They are more appropriate for off-framework establishment as they have a dependable reinforcement framework and don’t need regular maintenance, yet the absence of support will lessen their cycle checks. They don’t require ventilation or cooling and have a long life cycle. They are available in a wide range of sizes and performances and even can be stored in a discharged state because of their long shelf life. Moreover, Cadmium used in these batteries is a toxic metal that makes the battery types less user-friendly and leads to lead-acid batteries.

Lead Acid

Lead batteries are renowned for decades. Either they are the bulky ones but are still rapidly being eclipsed by other technologies with more extended guarantees or lower prices as solar battery storage becomes more popular. They have a low self-discharge rate among the presented rechargeable batteries. They have the specific power and are well capable of the high discharge of current among many others, but it charges slowly (14+ hours) among the others and has a low specific energy. The lead batteries are not so eco-friendly, and in case if they are not discarded properly, they can contaminate the environment. That can result in a threat to human health and nature as they contain sulfuric acid and lead that are dangerous elements. So that’s why these batteries are heavy because of their materials. 

Lithium-Ion

The lithium ions are gathering more repute after evolving electric car industry development both in technology and cost. There are two kinds of lithium-ion batteries that exist and are used for large-scale solar battery storage applications: Lithium Manganese Oxide (LMO) is a fast charging but can only enter the C&I market. The Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC) is high energy-specific and stable but relatively new. Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) has a long life cycle with no requirements for ventilation or cooling. At the same time, these batteries have high energy thickness and a somewhat low self-release. They don’t require delayed preparation when new, and one charge is adequate. Lithium-particle batteries are overall poor support, and an occasional release isn’t needed. Anyway, the vast majority of them are still similarly costly to fabricate and are liable to maturing, even while not being utilized and transportation limitations. They likewise require an insurance circuit to keep up voltage and current inside limits.

Flow

They are the new entrants to the battery storage technology family, and even the technology has been used for years. They are known as flow batteries because of the water-based solution of zinc-bromide inside them. They have more prominent plan adaptability, permitting more blend between capacity limit and force yield limit. These Redox flow batteries (RFB) have high flexible energy storage technology and low energy density and less expensive. The Hybrid flow battery has a high storage technology with common charge and discharge rates and less costly. Rather than adding more batteries to a storage system to build its ability, stream batteries need more electrolyte fluid. This electrolyte can be recharged whenever without intruding on power yield. The electrochemical cell can convey power as long as the electrolyte arrangement is accessible.

Wrapping Up!

Settling on the battery innovation will affect the entire power system use and life span. As we have seen, lead-acid batteries are more dependable and have been utilized for quite a long time. Yet, they are not as adaptable or practical as the other batteries appeared previously. It is unquestionably challenging to pick battery storage or the correct EMS that will work with it. After selecting the battery type, one needs to appropriately estimate their battery fleet and track down a viable EMS for choosing a battery based on your demand. 

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Ballarat Energy Storage System | Solar Storage in Victoria

The Ballarat Energy Storage System has been turned on by the Victorian Government today – let’s take a look at this unique battery and see how it will help shape Victoria’s energy future!

Ballarat Energy Storage System

The Ballarat Energy Storage System has 30MW capacity and can output 30MWh – it’s located at the Ballarat terminal station and is owned by Australian energy company Ausnet. The battery storage units are Fluence branded, and were installed by Spotless and Downer Group.

Ballarat Energy Storage System
Ballarat Battery Energy Storage System (source: spotless.com)

ARENA and the Victorian Government will jointly provide $25 million in funding for both this project and the Gannawarra Energy Storage System (GESS). The project (BESS) is expected to end up costing around $35m. 

Lily D’Ambrosio, the minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, made a statement about the Ballarat Energy Storage System discussing the Government’s plans for Australia’s renewable energy future:

“We said we would deliver these large-scale batteries for Victoria, and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” she said.

“This is part of our plan to transition to a more affordable, reliable and clean energy system. We’re modernising our electricity grid, strengthening our energy security and delivering real action on climate change.”

According to RenewEconomy, the battery will be most useful in these three situations:

  1. It can help with congestion on Victoria’s transmission grid (especially as it’s installed at a network terminal rather than a wind or solar farm (which is the norm)). 
  2. It’ll help shore up the baseline load for Melbourne, especially during peak times when air conditioners and deconstructed latte machines are switched on en masse; and
  3. It’ll provide ‘key grid stability services’ like frequency control. 

Lastly, straight from the horses’s mouth:

The battery will store energy at times of relatively low value. The battery will use stored energy and use it at times of relatively high value. The project will also examine providing other grid services such as frequency control ancillary services (FCAS) and, should it be established under the electricity market rules, a Fast Frequency Response (FFR).

It’ll be fascinating to see how this works over the summer – we’ll, of course, also be keeping a close eye on the Tesla batteries at the Hornsdale Power Reserve to see if they’re able to continue delivering massive savings to the SA government. How long until the rest of the states follow suit? 

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PowerBank trial for WA Homes | Tesla PowerPack

An official announcement by the Government of Western Australia on Wednesday notes that they will partner with Western Power and Synergy to offer a Tesla PowerBank trial via a 105kW (420kWh) Tesla PowerBank battery.

PowerBank trial for WA Homes.

 

PowerBank trial for WA Homes.
Tesla PowerPack Commercial Battery – PowerBank trial for WA Homes (source: Tesla)

The 24 month trial period means that customers participating will be able to ‘virtually’ store excess power they generate during the day (it’ll be fed into the utility-scale 105kW Tesla PowerPack Battery). They can then use 8kWhs of the PowerBank’s battery storage without needing to install their own power bank. According to the press release (and it’s true!), “8kWhs is enough to power the average suburban home for over one hour during peak time.”

Energy Minister Ben Wyatt discussed the Tesla PowerBank trial in a series of interesting quotes which explain how helpful this trial could be to Mandurah residents:

“PowerBank is an ‘in front of the meter’ storage trial which allows invited local customers to store excess electricity from already installed solar PV systems to then use it during peak times.

“This is another Australian milestone for the application of utility-scale batteries for the benefit for customers, drawing on the groundbreaking work by Synergy in its Alkimos Beach energy storage trial.

“For the first time in Australia, a utility-scale battery will be integrated into an established suburb’s network, like Meadow Springs, that has a high level of existing solar PV uptake.

“At the cost of one dollar a day, customers will have access to 8kWh of battery storage to use any time after 3pm each day.

“This trial shows that the WA Government is serious about working with renewables, delivering for taxpayers and planning for our energy future.”

Click here to view the media statement from the WA state government.

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Kiamal solar project launched, may add 194MW more.

The official launch of the Kiamal solar project was held in Victoria on Wednesday. The 265MW (DC) solar plant has plans to double its output by adding another 194MW in the future at some point.

Kiamal solar project

Kiamal Solar Project
Kiamal Solar Project (source: Total-Eren Press Release (LinkedIn))

The Kiamal solar project is owned and being run by Total Eren (formerly two separate companies), a renewable energy company based in France whose $300m investment in the project has raised the ire of the Australian Energy Market Operator, who have implemented tough new conditioned for those wanting to install wind and solar in Victoria’s ‘full’ grid (click here to read a great article from the AFR about it). They commented that Total Eren had ‘misjudged’ the system strength requirements and said there could be an issue with adding a farm this size to the noth-west Victorian grid.

Luckily the team at Total Eren (or Total-Eren, depending on how French you are) have agreed to add an expensive ‘synchronous condenser’ to help stabilise the grid. AFR report that the cost is estimated to be in the ‘tens of millions of dollars’ so this is certainly quite the olive branch. 

An official statement from the company noted that the company had acquiesced to AEMO’s requests “…in order to facilitate a timely connection … substantially strengthening the grid in the region and making it possible to connect even more renewables in north-west Victoria”.

The team are now looking into adding 380MWh of energy storage and 194MWh of solar in a second or third stage, as per executive vice-president Fabienne Demol. 

NSW Energy Minister Don Harwin spoke at the Financial Review National Energy Summit and explained the situation a little further:

“There are plenty of people who want to advance new renewable energy generation options here in NSW, but transmission is a huge constraint and that is why we are ahead of the game, out there with our own strategy, carefully reviewing all the work AEMO has done in the ISP to make sure it works for NSW consumers ,but whatever we do we will be doing it in a way to make sure it doesn’t lead to upward pressure on prices because that is our critical focus and that is the assurance that we will give.”

Click here to learn more about the PPA Kiamal solar farm signed with Flow Power earlier this year. 

They’ve also signed Alinta Energy and Mars Australia after losing Meridian Energy earlier this year due to construction delays. The Kiamal solar farm will be completed by the middle of 2019. 

 

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