JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Vanadium is poised to play a major role in facilitating energy storage, says American Vanadium executive chairperson Ron MacDonald.
TSX venture exchange-listed American Vanadium is developing the Gibellini vanadium-mining project in Nevada, US, against the background of most of the world’s vanadium mining taking place South Africa, Russia and China.
MacDonald tells Mining Weekly Online that, of the three different battery banks that China commissioned in December as part of a $2-billion initial-phase battery test facility, one is for vanadium flow batteries.
“China has started a new industry and it’s in energy storage, and vanadium flow batteries are going to play a major role in providing that storage,” MacDonald forecasts.
China’s “soft target” is for 10% of all its power to be held in storage facilities in the next eight years.
“We knew the numbers were high, but what we didn’t realise is that they’re not just talking storage for renewable energy, but for all the power that will be produced by 2020.
“This is an enormous move forward considering that globally right now you probably only have about 1 000 MW of storage capacity. You’re talking here about an exponential number,” MacDonald says.
The other interesting aspect is the level of investment that will be required to reach the target.
The global investment in a variety of storage solutions is expected to be a trillion dollars in the next seven years.
Vanadium occurs in multiple states in the vanadium flow battery, making it more like a capacitor or fuel cell.
The market for vanadium in steel is also poised to increase, as China’s changed building code requires the use of vanadium-containing rebar.
American Vanadium CEO Bill Radvak expects steel demand alone to drive the vanadium pentoxide price towards $15 a pound in five to eight years.
Currently, vanadium pentoxide is selling at $6.50 a pound, with forecasts that it is unlikely to change dramatically for a couple of years.
“The building code will take two or three years to implement fully and that’s when consumption should start happening,” says Radvak.