Avalon and redT unite in $70 million merger of vanadium redox flow battery startups – pv magazine USA

California’s Avalon and the U.K.’s redT are merging their vanadium redox flow battery firms, subject to shareholder approval, to form Invinity Energy Systems. The new firm is valued at $70 million in a deal that the companies have been threatening for months.

The merger was structured as a reverse takeover of listed company Avalon by private company redT on a share-for-share basis, the Greenhouse PR company tasked with announcing the deal told pv magazine today. The new business will be headquartered in the U.K. and Canada, added the PR firm.

Flow batteries have minimal degradation, a purported 20- to 25-year lifetime and use a non-flammable, liquid electrolyte. The newly merged company is focused on solar-plus-storage grid-scale projects.

Portfolios and pipelines

Invinity claims a 40-plus global project portfolio and a development pipeline that includes the supply of vanadium flow batteries to the $49.5 million Energy Superhub Oxford project launched in April. The battery system for the three-year project which is due to go live this year features a 2 MW Invinity vanadium flow device alongside a 50 MW lithium-ion battery to be supplied by Finnish energy company Wärtsilä.

redT joined with Norwegian renewables business Statkraft to offer the first power purchase agreement-based vanadium-flow-plus-solar commercial solution for U.K. businesses. RedT’s vanadium flow systems were also the first of their kind to pre-qualify to offer dynamic firm frequency response services to the U.K. electricity transmission network.

Avalon was founded in 2013 and has deployed more than 160 of its flow battery modules, according to the company. Avalon has also worked with solar-tracker leader NEXTracker whose CEO, Dan Shugar, noted the lack of degradation in the battery.

Long-duration storage always on the cusp of commercialization

Makers of vanadium flow batteries have hoped for mass-commercialization of longer-duration energy storage for twenty years but have never been able to reach volumes of scale in a landscape littered with defunct flow battery firms. The steep price drop in lithium ion batteries has not helped market penetration for flow batteries.

More than 20 flow battery chemistries, including zinc-bromine, zinc-iron, zinc-cerium, and magnesium-vanadium, have been studied — but the most researched and closest to commercialization is the vanadium redox flow battery. Vanadium, the dominant cost in that electrolyte, is a metal mined in Russia, China and South Africa with reserves in the U.S. and Canada, and is used predominantly as a steel additive. Firms such as UET, ViZn, Primus, Sumitomo are installing flow batteries.

ARPA-E has funded a number of long-duration technologies such as flow batteries, electricity-to-hydrogen, and thermal storage from startups like Antora. Venture capitalists have funded long-duration aspirants such as Form Energy and Quidnet.

Avalon Battery’s president, Matt Harper, was interviewed by pv magazine last year — he said that prices offered by leading manufacturers have come down 80% in less than five years.

As reported in that article, Lazard, an asset manager, calculates that the levelized cost of storing electricity in some redox flow projects now overlaps with that of lithium-ion batteries, the main competition.

Sales of vanadium-flow batteries, the most established flow battery technology, is cited as growning from double digits to just over 200 MWh of installed storage capacity.

Source: https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2020/03/17/avalon-and-redt-unite-in-70-million-merger-of-vanadium-redox-flow-battery-startups/

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