Redox flow batteries for energy storage

Flow batteries: the market, companies and projects, from vanadium redox battery technology to zinc bromide, iron chromium, zinc iron and beyond. Photo credit: Sumitomo Electric

Flow batteries: the market, companies and projects, from vanadium redox battery technology to zinc bromide, iron chromium, zinc iron and beyond. Photo: Sumitomo Electric

The quest continues for reliable grid-scale energy storage that does not involve huge civil engineering projects.

Current bets are on shipping containers full of lithium-ion batteries (courtesy, no doubt, of the gigafactories predicted to be springing up all over the US in the next few years) as last year’s excitement over compressed air energy storage has now, well, deflated.

There is another technology that shows some promise, however. Redox flow batteries may not yet be ubiquitous, but they are making a global impact, are attracting investment and do seem to work.

So let’s start with a brief roundup of some of the larger projects currently in operation.
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Energy storage news: 12.02.14

Sumitomo opens the world’s first used electric vehicle battery energy storage system. Nissan Leaf lithium-ion batteries will regulate energy from a solar power plant in Osaka, Japan.

Sumitomo opens the world’s first used electric vehicle battery energy storage system. Nissan Leaf lithium-ion batteries will regulate energy from a solar power plant in Osaka, Japan. Photo credit: Animam for Energy Storage Report

The latest energy storage news headlines from our Twitter feed.

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Japan adds backing to energy storage

NGK is known for the development of sodium-sulphur (NaS) batteries, Sumitomo are currently working on vanadium redox flow batteries.

NGK is known for its sodium-sulphur (NaS) batteries. Sumitomo is working on vanadium redox flow batteries. Photo credit: NGK Insulators

In a week where continued fears over radiation leakage call the future of the country’s nuclear fleet into question, there is at least one piece of good energy news coming out of Japan. NGK Insulators and Sumitomo Electric Industries have both been chosen by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to find ways of driving down the costs of energy storage.
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60MWh redox flow battery order

In 2012, Sumitomo completed a demonstration power generation and storage system at its Yokohama Works – using the world’s then largest vanadium redox flow battery and Japan’s largest concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) units.  Photo credit: Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd.

In 2012, Sumitomo completed a demonstration power generation and storage system at its Yokohama Works – using the world’s then largest vanadium redox flow battery and Japan’s largest concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) units. Photo credit: Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd.

According to a report in the Nikkei, a Sumitomo Electric Industries vanadium redox flow battery will soon be helping Hokkaido Electric Power to store electricity in order to stabilise its grid network. The 60MWh device will allow Hokkaido to add increasing amounts of renewable energy to its grid, which serves millions of customers in the northernmost of Japan’s four major islands.
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