Rising Demand for Redox Flow Batteries of Energy Storage

Explore the rising demand for Redox Flow Batteries (RFBs) as a potential solution to the energy storage challenges posed by lithium-ion batteries.

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Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are widely recognized for their role in powering a variety of devices, including cell phones, electric vehicles (EVs), and power tools. They also play a significant part in energy storage for power grids. However, fulfilling the increasing energy storage demands exclusively with Li-ion batteries presents challenges. Reports from the American Clean Power Association (ACP) and Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, including their latest release on September 25, predict that the U.S. will install about 66 GW of new energy storage capacity between 2023 and 2027.

This trend is not limited to the U.S. A BloombergNEF market outlook earlier this year forecasted that global energy storage capacity could reach 508 GW/1,432 GWh by 2030, with annual additions hitting 88 GW/278 GWh. China is expected to lead this market. Notably, these projections do not account for the Li-ion battery demand from the EV sector. The World Economic Forum has raised concerns about potential lithium shortages as early as 2025, underscoring the need for diverse energy storage solutions.

The Potential of Redox Flow Batteries

Redox flow batteries (RFBs), suited for large-scale energy storage, function by circulating redox-active electrolytes through an electrochemical cell. These electrolytes, stored in large tanks, can either gain or lose electrons. RFBs can store more energy as the size of these tanks increases.

Various chemistries like vanadium, iron, and zinc-bromine are used in RFBs. For instance, Sumitomo Electric’s vanadium RFB system boasts a lifespan exceeding 20 years, high safety due to noncombustible materials, and a flexible design allowing for tailored output and storage duration.

Conrad Nichols, an analyst at IDTechEx, noted in a September 29 report that despite limited deployments in the past decade, the demand for RFBs is expected to rise with the growth of renewable energy. Nichols predicts the RFB market could be valued at $2.8 billion by 2034.

Increasing Initiatives in Flow Battery Projects

Recent months have seen several RFB projects announced. Sumitomo Electric will install its first vanadium RFB system in Australia, ordered by Vecco Group Pty. Ltd. Similarly, Energy Storage Industries (ESI) in Australia deployed the world’s largest iron flow battery project for the Stanwell Clean Energy Hub in Queensland.

In the United States, Redflow is set to provide zinc-bromine flow batteries for a large-scale energy storage project in California, part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s initiative to develop long-duration energy storage technologies. Additionally, Stryten Energy and Snapping Shoals EMC marked the installation of Georgia’s first vanadium RFB system, signaling a new phase in energy storage capabilities beyond conventional batteries.

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