World’s largest vanadium flow battery powers up in the UK

World’s largest vanadium flow battery powers up in the UK

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Invinity Energy Systems and Pivot Power have powered-up the world’s largest flow battery as part of Energy Superhub Oxford.

The £41m project includes a 5MWh flow battery system, manufactured in the UK by Invinity, combined with a 50 MWh Wärtsilä lithium-ion battery that operates as a single energy storage asset.

This will be the largest directly-transmission-connected battery installed in the UK to date and the largest vanadium flow + lithium-ion hybrid battery ever deployed, says Invinity. The hybrid approach leverages the strengths of each technology to increase grid resiliency and create a smarter, more flexible energy system, ultimately supporting the integration of more renewable generation onto the UK grid.

Since September, Invinity has installed 27 of its VS3 flow batteries, each the size of a 20ft shipping container, at the battery site alongside National Grid’s substation in Cowley, Oxfordshire. Combined these batteries can deliver over 5 MWh, enough energy to serve the daily electricity needs of over 600 UK households. Invinity is working with battery trading optimiser Habitat Energy and power electronics supplier Gamesa Electric on the final integration and commissioning of the battery ahead of launch.

In the ESO hybrid energy storage system, Invinity’s vanadium flow batteries are used to ‘front-end’ the energy asset, acting as a first line of response when the system is called into service; only after the required response exceeds the capacity of the Invinity battery does the lithium-ion battery get called into service. Since Invinity’s flow battery does not degrade with use and can cycle indefinitely, it performs much of the ‘heavy-lifting’ required from the system while reducing wear on the lithium-ion battery.

Led by Pivot Power, the project is set to open the UK’s largest public electric vehicle charging hub on the outskirts of Oxford, at Redbridge Park & Ride in spring 2022.

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“Energising the vanadium flow battery is an important step towards full commissioning and operation of the system. Once live, this cutting-edge hybrid battery will demonstrate how vanadium flow and lithium-ion technologies can be combined for maximum benefit, to accelerate net zero and power our lives with clean energy,” said Tim Rose, Programme Manager for Energy Superhub Oxford at Pivot Power.

“Energising the largest flow battery in the UK marks a proud moment for Invinity, but even more important is how this innovative project is a model for cities worldwide. It demonstrates that energy storage pioneers such as Pivot Power can collaborate with local government to deliver a future-proofed, flexible grid that supports the renewable energy transition and the shift to an electrified, net zero future,” said Larry Zulch, CEO of Invinity Energy Systems

With a working life of over 20 years even in heavy-duty use, VFBs are well suited to the daily demands of making intermittent renewable generation available on demand. VFBs are non-flammable and almost fully recyclable, enhancing their sustainability. And because of their long life, VFBs can deliver energy to the electric grid at extremely low long term costs.

Invinity is already operating its technology in the world’s largest energy storage markets including California, Australia and across the UK.;

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