Bushveld Minerals subsidiary Bushveld Energy has made significant progress with exploiting the commercial opportunity of Vanadium Redox Flow Battery (VRFB) technology within the energy storage market in the first quarter of this year.
“During [the quarter], we progressed and remained on track with our two immediate priorities – preparing for the construction of our electrolyte plant in South Africa and the delivery of our first energy storage system to State-owned power utlility Eskom,” Bushveld Minerals CEO Fortune Mojapelo said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
He added that Bushveld Energy is increasingly getting requests for electrolyte supply and VRFB technology for energy storage projects, both globally and in Africa, even in the context of decade-high vanadium prices.
The prevailing vanadium price environment, coupled with the ownership of a low-cost vanadium production base, creates a uniquely attractive opportunity for Bushveld Minerals, the company noted.
“In this context, our vertical integration strategy and development of business models for electrolyte delivery into VRFBs strongly positions us to support adoption of VRFBs in the energy storage market, while creating significant value for our stakeholders,” Mojapelo stated.
Busvheld Minerals is also encouraged by the establishment of the South African Energy Storage Association, of which Bushveld Energy CEO Mikhail Nikomarov has been elected to serve as chairperson.
Busvheld Energy has engaged with an international chemicals company to design and build a vanadium electrolyte production plant with multiple megalitre yearly capacity.
The scope of the engagement includes independent verification and improvement of the existing process flow and plant design to cover both the process at Bushveld Minerals’ Vametco mine and that of the greenfield facility in the East London Industrial Development Zone (ELIDZ).
The engagement further includes establishing greater certainty of the cost estimate for the dual-located processing assets; joint work with Busvheld Energy and Bushveld Vametco to expand Vametco’s current laboratory capabilities to include testing of electrolyte in-house; and production of batch, single-acid vanadium electrolyte, as samples for prospective VRFB customers.
Additionally, the engagement entails preparation of the project for the engineering, procurement and construction phase, which is planned for the third quarter of this year.
Meanwhile, environmental assessments need to be performed at both Vametco and the ELIDZ.
ESKOM VRFB PROJECT
Bushveld Energy has, meanwhile, completed manufacturing of the direct current portion of the VRFB, with factory acceptance expected during this month. The delivery of the entire system to Eskom is on track for the second quarter.
The company has started site preparation work at the Eskom site, including earthworks and cabling, while appointing two technicians from South Africa to perform installation and maintenance on the project.
In addition, these technicians will be training at UniEnergy Technology – a US-based leading VRFB manufacturer – which will give Bushveld Energy the capability to install and maintain future VRFB installations in South Africa and regionally.