Bushveld upbeat about VRFB future as subsidiary secures funding for Vametco hybrid mini-grid

23rd June 2022 By: Creamer Media Reporter

Bushveld upbeat about VRFB future as subsidiary secures funding for Vametco hybrid mini-grid

Photo by: Bloomberg

Integrated primary vanadium producer and energy storage solutions provider Bushveld Minerals has secured funding for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of the R113-million Vametco hybrid mini-grid, which is owned by Bushveld Minerals' 84%-owned energy subsidiary, Bushveld Energy.

Bushveld Energy has completed the development and achieved financial close for a 3.5 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) plus a 1 MW/4 MWh vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) hybrid mini-grid project for Vametco, which will operate as a funded independent power producer.

Bushveld Energy and South African investment firm NESA Investment Holdings have signed a shareholders agreement as strategic equity partners in the project's development and financing, with the project being housed in a separate special purpose vehicle (SPV).

NESA has provided 60% of the equity, while Bushveld Energy has provided 40%. Bushveld Energy will recognise a development fee of R5.6-million as revenue from the project upon financial close.

ABSA Relationship Banking has approved a R64-million loan to part-fund the construction of the mini-grid project.

“We are delighted to have secured the necessary funding for the EPC of the hybrid mini-grid at Vametco. This project is the first of its kind in South Africa and will serve as a VRFB reference site in South Africa for the mining industry, utilities and other users. This VRFB mini-grid project is a useful proof-of-concept of the greater technological qualities of long-duration VRFB systems when used in conjunction with renewable energy.

"At a fundamental level, the project also perfectly demonstrates the sustainable uses for vanadium and positions it as a key metal in the green energy transition," says Bushveld Minerals CEO Fortune Mojapelo.

He adds that it is encouraging that the majority of the capital invested in the mini-grid project came from sources outside of Bushveld Minerals.

"This not only proves the attractiveness of the business case for long-duration energy storage using vanadium, but also demonstrates investor interest in the market in the roll-out of VRFB technology.

“In the future, we expect to see increased demand for projects combining solar PV and VRFB technology, especially in regions with similar challenges to South Africa,” he says. 

The hybrid mini-grid project, which is scheduled for completion in the first half of 2023, will be built on a turnkey basis by NESA Power, which has already executed an EPC agreement alongside the SPV.

The project's 1 MW/4 MWh VRFB will be supplied by CellCube – a VRFB original-equipment manufacturer in which Bushveld owns an indirect 25.25% interest.

Vametco has sold 26 t of vanadium for the production of electrolyte required for the VRFB. The vanadium is being converted into electrolyte outside of South Africa.