Industrial-scale test of Vanadium Flow batteries, as an alternative for Lithium-Ion batteries

Jan De Nul, ENGIE and Equans launch a pilot project centred around the use of Vanadium Redox Flow batteries on industrial scale. This type of battery, which is still relatively unknown to the general public, could become a safe and sustainable complement to the widely-used lithium-ion battery. The three businesses will investigate how these batteries can optimise power management in an industrial environment, and how they can represent an added value in the transition towards a carbon-free economy. The official launch of the project took place in the presence of the Minister for Energy, Tinne Van der Straeten.

Partnership for first industrial-scale test

Research centre ENGIE Laborelec already carried out successful lab tests with a Redox Flow Battery in 2019, and now they are testing the control and maintenance of this technology on an industrial scale. ENGIE, Equans and Jan De Nul join their efforts to test this installation of Redox Flow batteries. Equans installed a Vanadium Redox Flow battery, manufactured by Invinity Energy Systems, with an 800 kWh capacity at the Jan De Nul site in Hofstade (near Aalst), connected to their 578kW solar panel installation. The installation is housed in four 20ft containers, stacked in twos, and is managed by a smart Energy Management System (EMS) of ENGIE, which controls the battery to optimise the installation’s auto-consumption.

“Jan De Nul are building the energy transition and invest fully in innovation. We install wind farms and interconnectors, we redevelop historic pollution into sources of sustainable energy. And with this project, we are one step further towards sustainable business management. Together with our continued investment into PV installations and the electrification of our vehicle fleet, this Vanadium Flow Battery will enable us to better balance supply and demand on this site. We investigate and learn how this type of application can be deployed more widely on our sites and in our operations in Belgium and all over the world. At Jan De Nul, we have loads of ambitious targets for GHG emissions with initiatives such as the CO2 Performance Ladder, Science-Based Targets and the Carbon Disclosure Project. It has always been Jan De Nul’s vision and ambition to play a pioneering role in the energy transition”, explains Julie De Nul, CEO at Jan De Nul.

“We have taken care of the conceptual study, the tender process and the integration of the different modules, and we will also be responsible for the maintenance of the battery system during the 4-year test period. Equans are experts in assisting their clients in the areas of energy transition, industrial and digital transition. We see the Redox Flow battery technology as a sustainable, robust and future-proof solution, and we are particularly proud that we can take part in this first industrial-scale trial”, says Mark Dirckx, CEO at Equans BeLux. 

In the future, batteries will be indispensable on industrial sites, in combination with the local production of renewable energy. “As pioneers in the energy transition, we look beyond the well-known Lithium-Ion battery and we dare to choose innovation. Currently, there are still very few examples in Europe of large-scale projects with Redox Flow batteries. This pilot project puts Belgium in the spotlight as a frontrunner in innovation in the energy sector. We want to play a major part in energy storage with the ambition to develop 10GW storage capacity by 2030 worldwide”, says Vincent Verbeke, CEO ENGIE Belgium.  

Vanadium Redox Flow batteries as potential alternative for Lithium-Ion batteries

Vanadium Redox Flow batteries are innovative batteries that are currently mature enough technically and commercially to play a major part in the energy transition. Vanadium Redox Flow batteries can be deployed as a replacement for or complement to Lithium-Ion batteries, a/o for local renewable energy production on industrial sites or in centralised setups. Unlike Lithium-Ion batteries, Redox Flow batteries have a lifespan of at least 25 years, a capacity that ages very little over time and a natural storage capacity of several hours. Moreover, they are safer, because there is no risk of thermal runaway, and are therefore more suitable for hotter climates, and they can be recycled more easily at the end of their lifecycle.

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