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Vanadium Redox Flow Battery: What’s Next in Renewable Energy

By 2025, the global market for renewable energy will reach $1.5 trillion.  That is major growth from where the industry was in 2019, when solar and wind energy generated $18.7 billion and $14 billion in respective investments.  In that year, renewable energy powered millions of homes and hundreds of thousands of jobs, a figure likely to grow as the market does. Let’s take a deeper look at renewable energy solutions which include the vanadium redox flow battery.

While world governments are encouraging the switch to sustainable energy, private demand is also strong.  71% of America thinks clean energy should be a priority, and nearly half of consumers would be willing to pay more per month in electricity bills if it meant their energy came from a renewable source.  Beyond environmental concerns, 58% of Americans also believe renewable energy will improve the economy, in no small part due to the jobs it creates.

Renewable Energy to the Rescue

For renewable energy to achieve its potential will require a battery, such as the vanadium redox flow battery.  In 2019, less than 5% of behind-the-meter solar systems had a battery.  Batteries address the biggest shortfall in the most popular renewable energy sources. Batteries can store energy generated on windy and sunny days to be used on cloudy days and windless nights.  Prior to battery usage, residential solar users simply sold their excess power to utility companies in a system called “net metering”.  Since utility companies are lobbying in 43 states to phase out net metering, a power storage system is the only way residential solar will remain financially viable.

Lithium-ion batteries, invented in 1912, today power everything from electric vehicles to smartphones.  By next year, lithium-ion batteries are expected to fuel 61% of demand. This battery class is the best available option for mobile applications, but it has a few limitations in long duration, energy intensive, and stationary uses. To start, the battery storage capacity degrades over time. Fully discharging the battery shortens its usable lifespan. Also, for a technology indispensable for the green revolution, lithium-ion production and disposal have many sustainability problems. Lithium mining scars landscapes and creates mountains of discarded salt. Extracting lithium can leach toxic chemicals into the water supply. Variation in materials makes recycling difficult and costly, and improper disposal can contaminate soil and water. Those deeply invested in sustainability should look for an alternative to lithium-ion batteries.

Introducing the Vanadium Redox Flow Battery

That alternative? Vanadium redox flow batteries.  Unlike their lithium-ion counterparts, vanadium flow batteries don’t degrade. They can fully charge and discharge throughout 25 years of useful life. These batteries more sustainable than lithium-ion. The electrolyte is 100% reusable in a new battery and recycled vanadium retains full functionality. Vanadium flow batteries are not flammable, don’t explode, and are more resilient to temperature extremes, making them safer for long term energy storage.

Vanadium redox flow batteries are a greener battery for the green future.

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