The international flow battery industry is coming of age, delegates to this year’s International Flow Battery Forum (IFBF) heard. Opening the 3-day conference in Prague, Czech Republic, on Tuesday, IFBF chief Anthony Price said in 2016 there was not much interest in flow batteries.
“In 2016, we were struggling to get anyone to commit to buying a flow battery. People were asking ‘why would we do that?'”
Then renewables happened, feed-in tariffs were removed and flow batteries had to stand on their own two feet…Interest went from zero to you just can’t get enough of them.”
Price later told BEST: “…in general terms, in 2016, certainly in the UK, the battery industry hadn’t quite started. Investors were not convinced of the business case, but they were waiting. At the point of inflection, it all happened very quickly and investors piled in. It seems to us, that we are close to that point of inflection for LDES and that includes flow batteries.”
In a paper on flow battery targets, Flow Batteries Europe, which supported the Prague event, reported that 8 GW of flow batteries are projected to be installed globally by 2030 without additional policy support.
But announcements by a few known vendors alone simultaneously indicate that 2.5 GW of flow batteries can already be installed by 2027. This means that global flow battery capacity has the potential to be much higher by 2030, especially with further support from policymakers. Its goal is to achieve 20 GW and 200 GWh of flow batteries globally by 2030.
Price said in closing the conference: “This industry is going to go places, and to places we haven’t expected. We’re going to be able to take a cruise in a few years’ time on a flow battery-powered cruise ship.”
He was speaking just after a presentation highlighting a project on a flow-battery powered inland waterway ship operating in the Rhine region. The idea is the inland waterway vessels will be retrofitted by Cellcube with flow batteries in place of diesel engines.
Delegates said the event has matured and moved on from talking about the-sun-doesn’t-shine-and-the-wind-doesn’t-blow-therefore-we-need-batteries, to detailed papers and data on technological innovations, installations and real-life case studies from around the world.
You will read a more extensive report in the Summer issue of BEST.
One flow battery manufacturer executive, who declined to be quoted on the record, told BEST: “We all exaggerate, but as the flow battery industry more of a becomes reality, we don’t exaggerate as much. We don’t need to.”
Photo: IFBF chief Anthony Price said: “This industry is going to go places”