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Australian Vanadium VRFB will be part of solar and energy storage system at orchard

A 100kW solar system with a 20kW power, 80kWh energy storage Vanadium Redox Flow Battery will be installed by Priest Bros.

Australian Vanadium Ltd - Australian Vanadium VRFB will be part of solar and energy storage system at orchard
Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries from manufacturer Avalon Battery

Australian Vanadium Ltd (ASX:AVL) has sold a Vanadium Redox Flow Battery (VRFB) which will form part of a solar and energy storage system at an orchard in Victoria.

The vanadium energy storage system, which has been sold by AVL’s subsidiary VSUN Energy Pty Ltd, will be installed at Priest Bros orchard in Pakenham, on the edge of the Gippsland region.

In collaboration with renewable systems provider Profit Share Power Pty Ltd, VSUN Energy will install a 100kW solar system with a 20kW power, 80kWh energy storage VRFB at the orchard.

Agriculture “a key market”

AVL’s managing director Vincent Algar said, “The agricultural sector is seen as a key market for VRFB energy storage systems.

“I recall reading about a dairy farmer in Holland installing a battery in 2016 and VSUN Energy’s first installation was at a native tree nursery in Busselton.

“I think the qualities of a long-life asset which will reliably deliver renewable energy via a non-flammable product are key strengths of the VRFB that particularly appeal to the farming sector.”

Final project configuration is subject to the successful award of the Victorian on-farm energy grant under the Agriculture Investment Energy Plan.

Minimum of four hours storage

Priest Bros has paid a deposit for the solar and battery set up, which will provide a minimum of four hours of stored renewable energy with its designed configuration.

This will allow them to increase their onsite renewable generation and consumption, far in excess of what would be capable with a standalone solar array.

The family-owned and operated orchard covers around 80 acres over three properties and produces many different varieties of apples.

Goal to reduce emissions

Priest Bros’ goal is to reduce the emissions generated via energy use for the orchards and to provide a reliable and renewable source of power to the site, particularly the irrigation system and packing sheds.

Algar said, “We are delighted to be working with Priest Bros and Profit Share Power on this project and are particularly pleased that they have decided to pursue a battery product that will allow them to reduce their overheads whilst still achieving their primary aim of sustainable operations.

“Having this Australian invention working consistently on a daily basis for the next 20-plus years at the orchard shows that there is a growing recognition of the role that VRFBs can play in the energy storage sector.

“We and many of our partners see the integration of VRFBs with generation systems as being the building blocks of many renewable energy projects about to be rolled out, where businesses decide that they want a long life, low-risk source of renewable and uninterrupted power.”

A “no-brainer”

Shane Priest, of Priest Bros, said, “We have had our initial 60kW solar system installed for some time and enjoy the energy cost savings it delivers.

“Having reviewed our energy use we know that increasing our solar capacity and adding energy storage is going to improve our energy reliability and reduce our operating costs.

“We were particularly attracted to the VRFB due to the lack of flammability and the number of hours of energy it could provide along with the added bonus of its long life.

“Being a hard-working business, we need equipment that can work hard for us and when you see the ability of the VRFB storage technology to handle rapid and frequent charge/discharge cycling with no impact on the battery life, well it was a no-brainer to choose that technology.”

The VRFB solution for the orchard project is being supplied by battery manufacturer Avalon Battery.

It will take advantage of VRFB’s strengths - longevity, lack of performance degradation over time and thousands of cycles, 100% depth of discharge and the ability to re-use the non-flammable vanadium electrolyte at the end of the battery’s life.

Vanadium electrolyte agreement

Avalon Battery recently entered into an agreement with South African vanadium producer Bushveld Minerals to provide a leasing option for vanadium electrolyte.

This reduces the capex of the VRFB and provides security of electrolyte disposal in the future.

VSUN Energy was launched by AVL in 2016 to drive the company’s vertical integration strategy, with the company planning to produce vanadium products for customers in the steel and battery markets.

To achieve this, a pilot vanadium electrolyte plant was installed at the University of Western Australia and the company successfully produced vanadium electrolyte.

Work undertaken during metallurgical testing for AVL’s The Australian Vanadium Project has enabled the company to produce a standard mine product of a high purity 99.4% V2O5, with samples becoming available after the current test work to undertake further evaluation of V2O5 purification for battery and specialty chemical markets.

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