The government of Queensland, the mining province in northern Australia, has decided to develop a multi-technology battery strategy to create a cluster of industries, from refining and production of advanced raw materials, to cell manufacture, assembly of battery packs and recycling.
Queensland holds around 30% of the world’s known resources of vanadium, which is used for vanadium redox flow batteries.
Australia is a major supplier of metals and other raw materials for batteries. However, the added value of local production has historically been low. But the trend towards electrification has now also reached the country.
The Queensland Battery Strategy is to be implemented from 2023–27. A national support of A$100 million ($64 million) will be added to the A$62 million ($40 million) invested in the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan and the target to have 70% renewable energy by 2032.
A A$24 million ($15 million) investment will accelerate the development of iron and zinc-bromine flow batteries supplied by local manufacturers. Queensland sees this type of battery as suitable for energy storage from PV panels and balancing of the grid. The reason to support development of flow batteries is that the technology and production facilities are available locally.
The flow battery technology used in a new battery plant in Maryborough, owned by ESI (Energy Storage Industries Asia Pacific), is licensed from the US company ESS, the holder of a proprietary IP using iron and saltwater electrolytes.
Redflow, the Queensland-based clean energy company, plans to set up facilities for production in Ipswich, supported by the R&D cenre in Brisbane.
Queensland is targeting at least 13–15 GWh of battery production capacity by 2030, focusing on stationary storage, according to Steven Miles, infrastructure minister of the regional government.
Samantha McGahan ofAustralian Vanadium said: “From our perspective, most primary vanadium production comes from magnetite deposits like the Australian Vanadium Project in Western Australia and there hasn’t been any economic production from deposits like the ones in Queensland before.
“Having said that, we need a lot more vanadium in the world, so we would be very happy to see some of these projects get into production. From a downstream perspective it’s great to see the work being undertaken on vanadium electrolyte production and VFB installations in Queensland which are great for the whole industry across Australia.”