China sets tone for future vanadium-flow battery development

4th November 2017 By: Henry Lazenby - Creamer Media Deputy Editor: North America

VANCOUVER ( – The Chinese government has awarded a major contract to privately held clean technology innovator Pu Neng Energy for the construction of a 12 MWh vanadium-flow battery, as Phase 1 of a larger 40 MWh energy storage project, in Hubei province.

This first phase will be installed in Zaoyang, Hubei, to integrate a large solar photovoltaic system into the grid. Following this 10 MW, 40 MWh project, there will be a larger 100 MW, 500 MWh energy storage project that will be the cornerstone of a new smart energy grid in Hubei province.

This significant project will serve as a critical peak power plant, delivering reliability and emissions reductions.

According to Pu Neng, this type of project is a tantalising glimpse of the future of the Chinese electricity grid as the country is halting construction of many coal-fired power plants and pushing the integration of renewable energy with energy storage.

The China National Development and Reform Commission released Document 1701 in September, which outlined its strategy aimed at accelerating the deployment of grid-scale energy storage. The policy calls for the launch of pilot projects, including deployment of multiple 100-MW-scale vanadium-flow batteries, by the end of 2020, with the aim of large-scale deployment over the ensuing five years.

“China has the largest and highest-grade vanadium resources in the world and is poised to use this miracle metal to fundamentally transform its electricity grid. With massive amounts of renewable energy and storage coming on line, China will create the most modern, clean and efficient grid in the world," commented billionaire mining celebrity and chairperson of Pu Neng, Robert Friedland.

The company has developed the most reliable, longest-lasting vanadium flow battery yet, with more than 800 000 hours of demonstrated performance. The combination of Pu Neng’s proprietary low-cost ion-exchange membrane, long-life electrolyte formulation and innovative flow cell design sets it apart from other providers.

Pu Neng’s vanadium redox battery systems store energy in liquid electrolyte in a patented process based on the reduction and oxidation of ionic forms of the element vanadium. This is a nearly infinitely repeatable process that is safe, reliable and non-toxic. Components can be nearly 100% recycled at end-of-life, dramatically improving lifecycle economics and environmental benefits compared with lead-acid, lithium-ion and other battery systems.

Pu Neng is majority-owned by High Power Exploration (HPX), a metals-focused exploration company that also invests in minerals-dependent, high-growth emerging technologies. HPX is a subsidiary of I-Pulse, under the corporate umbrella of Ivanhoe Capital.

Shareholders of TSX-V-listed Sparton Resources will also benefit from the contract award.

The Toronto-based company hailed the announcement by privately held clean technology innovator Pu Neng Energy, in which Sparton's 89.8%-owned subsidiary VanSpar Mining holds a minority interest.

“We are delighted with Pu Neng’s progress this year. All of the staff are to be commended on achieving this milestone in Pu Neng’s development as the vanadium redox battery (VRB) manufacturer of choice for the energy storage industry," stated Sparton CEO Lee Barker in a news release.

The announcement earlier this week pushed Sparton's equity up 225% to a new 52-week high of C$0.14 a share.