Bushveld forms vanadium electrolyte rental company

Bushveld Minerals, an integrated primary vanadium producer and energy storage provider, has formed a rental service company in partnership with Invinity Energy Systems called Vanadium Electrolyte Rental Limited (VERL). VERL’s business is to provide a vanadium electrolyte rental option to Invinity’s customers.

 “Since setting up Bushveld Energy in 2016 we have said that the metal’s unique characteristics will give it certain advantages in the energy storage sector,” said Fortune Mojapelo, CEO of Bushveld Minerals

“In this case it is the lack of degradation, even after years of charging and discharging cycles that allows for us to loan the metal into a battery, thereby removing a significant portion of the upfront cost of the battery and ensuring the reusability of its electrolyte.”

“This partnership puts the rental model into a specific business unit, formalising a commercial partnership and ringfencing the vanadium rental sub-entity. We anticipate adding other rental agreements and VRFB companies to the partnership in growing the electrolyte rental model, ensuring that the VRFB is affordable and the most sustainable battery technology.”

Electrolyte manufacturing includes designing a conversion process for vanadium feedstock from Vametco’s existing mining and processing operations; building and operating a chemicals plant to purify vanadium feedstock and mix it into a liquid vanadium electrolyte product; and marketing the electrolyte to Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries (VRFB) companies or direct users/buyers of VRFB systems.

Renting (or leasing) vanadium electrolyte is a new developed product. Whereas historically VRFBs have been purchased with the vanadium electrolyte, rental/ leasing would allow Bushveld Energy, or a special purpose company, to retain ownership of electrolyte and rent it to the VRFB users or buyers.

VRFB technology is unique because of the non-degradation of the electrolyte chemistry and the relative ease of extracting vanadium from the electrolyte at the end of the VRFB’s operating life.

In addition to smoothing vanadium price peaks, electrolyte rental permits a long-term pricing model that reduces the upfront capital cost of a VRFB to make it one of the most commercially competitive energy storage technologies available.

The formation of Vanadium Electrolyte Rental Limited (VERL) reinforces Bushveld Minerals’ strategy of partnering with Vanadium Redox Flow Battery (VRFB) companies for the supply of vanadium material, vanadium electrolyte and vanadium electrolyte rental products.

“Both Invinity and Bushveld are intent on removing any obstacle to vanadium flow batteries demonstrating their superiority for heavy cycling and long duration applications. VERL is an excellent means of giving our customers the option to reduce the capex of their energy storage system,” said Larry Zulch, CEO of Invinity Energy Systems.

“The ability to rent electrolyte and be confident of its residual value shows why vanadium flow batteries have an environmental life-cycle assessment consistent with their purpose of making renewable energy a reliable resource.”

Bushveld Minerals is a low-cost, vertically integrated primary vanadium producer. It is 1 of only 3 operating primary vanadium producers, owning 2 of the world’s 4 operating primary vanadium processing facilities, currently producing approximately 3,000 metric tonnes of Vanadium per annum, which represents ~3% of the global vanadium market. Its target is to organically grow production to more than 8,400 mtVp.a. in the medium term.

Bushveld Minerals owns a diversified vanadium product portfolio serving the needs of the steel, energy and chemical sectors. Bushveld Minerals participates in the entire vanadium value chain through its two main pillars: Bushveld Vanadium, which mines and processes vanadium; and Bushveld Energy, an energy storage component manufacturer and project developer, focused on vanadium-based energy storage systems called Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries (VRFB).

Bushveld Minerals has reported that the ramp-up of operations following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic lockdown has continued and it expects annual 2020 group production to be up by 25%-35% compared to 2019.

It is anticipating production in the range of 3,660 and 3,950 tonnes of vanadium for 2020.

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