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In August this year, President Joe Biden signed into law a landmark federal legislation – the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 – directing new federal spending to the tune of nearly $400 billion toward clean energy. The act authorizes funding in the form of tax credits, grants and loans for purchasing and using clean energy technology for both industrial applications as well as residential installations.
This can be expected to boost climate-change action and increase the demand for industrial, commercial, and residential energy storage systems.
The new IRA brings benefits to power storage whether it is tied to renewable energy production or not. For instance, homeowners could receive a 30% tax credit for installing residential solar panels, solar energy storage systems, or even standalone energy storage systems that are installed in 2023 and beyond – enabling them to save on energy expenses, lower project costs and consume more renewable energy.
Companies like StorEn Technologies could have a role to play in helping homeowners and commercial enterprises implement an optimal energy storage solution.
StorEn, headquartered in South Carolina, U.S.A, manufactures vanadium flow batteries using its proprietary vanadium flow technology which the company believes could be the “missing link” in today’s energy markets. StorEn says there are multiple advantages packed into its vanadium batteries including being efficient, long-lasting, environmentally friendly and cost-effective.
What Makes Vanadium Batteries Special?
Vanadium is a hard silver-gray metallic element with a natural resistance to corrosion, which has conventionally been used to make steel alloys for use in space vehicles, nuclear reactors and aircraft carriers. But vanadium has also found its use in creating a reliable, safe and stable solution for the storage of renewable energy – in the form of vanadium flow batteries or vanadium redox flow batteries.
Vanadium batteries have the capacity to store large amounts of electricity for long periods of time without degradation. Unlike lithium batteries which last for just 300 to 500 charge/discharge cycles before they need to be replaced, vanadium redox flow batteries can last for well over 20,000 charge/discharge cycles – which makes energy storage using vanadium batteries more efficient and much less expensive.
According to Renewable Energy World, a lithium-ion-based storage system has an average cost of $1,750 a kilowatt-hour while a vanadium system would cost $1,000 a kilowatt-hour or less. Vanadium batteries have several other advantages including that they:
- Discharge at 100% capacity throughout their entire lifetime.
- Can last over 25 years without any degradation of capacity.
- Have a Battery Management System that can indicate when maintenance is needed.
- Are safer, as they are non-flammable and non-explosive, unlike lithium batteries.
- Offer more flexibility in use, including at low temperatures.
Using this energy storage technology, industrial facilities and homeowners would be able to collect and store energy from the electrical grid on an ongoing basis and further, access this backup during power outages caused by extreme weather, even without the need for solar panels.
Vanadium batteries could also help control utility costs for users by collecting power at times of the day when rates are lower and using the stored power during peak consumption periods when rates are higher.
In addition, while China has the largest reserves of vanadium, it is also plentiful in the U.S. and a notable environmental benefit of vanadium extraction is that it does not have the adverse water pollution effects associated with lithium mining.
Vanadium Batteries Could Possibly See Widespread Application
According to StorEn, until recently, vanadium battery technology had not been ready for widespread use owing to the large size of batteries produced.
But that can now change. The team at StorEn through their research and development have been able to design a vanadium flow battery that is 30% smaller than other batteries, through a unique modular design, with similar storage capacities making them well-suited for more widespread applications, including in the telecom industry. Their batteries are also designed to scale up for large-scale distribution easily.
Another area of application for vanadium batteries could be in solar energy. The global solar market is expanding, and it’s projected that the world will have 1 trillion watts of installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity by 2023. In value terms, the market is expected to reach $72B by 2026 as compared to $47B in 2019.
StorEn believes that its residential vanadium batteries will have a transformative impact in the solar energy equation as well, enabling solar power to be rolled out on a massive scale thanks to the longevity and reliability of vanadium batteries.
StorEn secured its first order for $500k from an Australian partner, and the first battery was delivered to Brisbane in Q1 2020 with additional units being manufactured.
The company reports signing an agreement with Connexus Energy, a utility company, to demonstrate the use of its system in a microgrid application that includes charging the battery with utility-scale solar and using the system to charge electric vehicles (EVs) on-site at the Connexus headquarters. The company believes that this first deployment will prove its advanced energy storage technology to be ready for commercial deployment, positioning them to take orders for their systems with delivery starting in early 2023.
StorEn holds 4 worldwide patents based on its cell stack design and its methodology for maintaining the balance of its electrolyte. The company has additionally filed patent cooperation treaty (PCT) applications for its technology in major countries including the U.S., European Union, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, India, China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, several African countries and Eurasia.
StorEn was listed as one of the 20 hand-picked promising startups that are working on emerging technologies that advance their field in 2022 by StartUs Insights.
StorEn has previously raised $8M+ from over 6,500 investors on StartEngine along with Venture Capital from ANYSEED Fund. It has recently launched an equity crowdfunding offering through StartEngine Primary, LLC and has raised over $600K so far.
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