Vanitec holds the first ever Energy Storage Committee meeting

In mid-October, London hosted the semi-annual meeting of Vanitec, the global body of vanadium producers and processors. Over the past decade it has contributed over USD 8 million on research activities to support topics such as health, safety, environmental impact and vanadium usage. The latter activity has historically focused on steel, but 18 months ago, we first suggested to change that. In April of 2015, we urged Vanitec to consider energy storage proactively, noting its transformative potential impact on the industry, including how it alone could double global vanadium demand by 2030. As a result, this session was especially fulfilling, as it marked the inaugural meeting of the Vantiec Energy Storage Committee (ESC).

This session was also open to non-members, such as electrolyte and battery manufacturers, resulting in a fairly diverse set of 80+ participants from hard core steel producers to VRFB manufacturers. Here are some observations:

  • According to Terry Perles, an industry analyst and expert, combining the demand forecasts for vanadium from steel and batteries (VRFBs and lithium, where vanadium is used in the cathode), an annual supply shortfall of 10-20% is imminent from 2018-2020 unless production grows from current levels. Given that vanadium demand has exceeded supply the past 4 quarters, which has led to a 50% price appreciation since the start of 2016, this is an important risk for the industry;

  • A number of opportunities for collaboration through ESC exist and were highlighted
  • Global standards for aspects of VRFB energy storage, including
  • Terminology (VRFB, VFB, VRB)
  • Electrolyte quality – at least for some base specifications
  • Environmental requirements for installations, as some countries require none while others display uncertainty;
  • Knowledge sharing and coordination of knowledge about more cost-effective high purity feedstock or electrolyte production. For example, multiple OEMs, research institutions and some vanadium producers (including Bushveld) are doing research into cost-effective direct ore to electrolyte processes to reduce the cost of manufacturing. At the moment, there is zero knowledge sharing of these efforts.
  • The next session will be in April 2017 in Cape Town, which presents an excellent opportunity for South African to highlight its activities in the vanadium space. Through Bushveld Energy and Vametco, we will continue playing a key role in Vanitec and the ESC.