Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Siemens and UTC among backers for Vionx grid storage system

Steve Rogerson
October 20, 2015
Boston, USA-based Vionx Energy has brought together six companies to launch and commercialise a storage technology that could transform how modern grids are managed and optimised. The six are United Technologies (UTC), Starwood Energy Group, Siemens, 3M, VantagePoint Capital Partners and Jabil, and these will license, finance, manufacture and deploy the energy storage system.
The company’s technology, a vanadium flow storage system, was developed and engineered by researchers at UTC and is designed to make a long-duration, long-life grid-scale battery practical, resilient and cost efficient.
“At Vionx Energy we’re dedicated to providing grid storage for the long run,” said David Vieau, Vionx Energy’s president and former chief executive officer of lithium ion battery maker A123 Systems. “Through our innovative flow battery solution incorporating technology developed by United Technologies, we are confident our technology has an important role to play in the future of grid energy storage. Our unique ecosystem of companies, including UTC, Siemens and Starwood Energy, bring us the expertise and support to make Vionx Energy a leading grid storage supplier globally.”
David Parekh, vice president and director of United Technologies’ research centre, added: “With the support of an Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) award, UTC has developed a differentiated flow battery that enables cost-effective and reliable energy storage. We are excited to be part of this ecosystem of companies. Along with licensing this R&D 100 award-winning technology exclusively to Vionx Energy, we will continue to provide R&D support to Vionx as they further develop and commercialise this game-changing solution.”
Vionx will market, sell and service the technology, which is targeted at utility scale applications in transmission and distribution, microgrid and island markets. The storage design boasts an in-situ process that maintains full storage capacity over a 20-year period – unlike other grid storage systems such as lithium ion or lead acid. The result is safe, long-running, affordable and flexible grid storage that provides utilities with added infrastructure resiliency and defers aging asset replacement costs.
“Recent changes to the energy system are creating completely new challenges for distribution grids,” said Dan Wishnick, Siemens business development manager. “The modern grid requires robust energy storage that can provide value to smart grid users multiple hours a day, year after year. As the engineering, procurement and construction provider to Vionx Energy, we believe the company’s flow battery technology can and will provide valuable long duration energy storage for creating a balanced and resilient electrical grid. The collection of unique and prominent companies working with Vionx Energy is a testament to what Vionx’s technology can accomplish, and we’re excited to play a role in this new venture.”
The group is backed by energy finance heavyweights including Starwood Energy and VantagePoint Capital Partners. According to Brad Nordholm, chief executive officer at Starwood Energy: “As an infrastructure investments specialist, we know the important role energy storage will continue to play in grid modernisation globally and in meeting tomorrow’s energy demands in existing and emerging markets. We’re pleased to be an important part of Vionx and its impressive team.”
Lee Burrows, managing director of VantagePoint Capital Partners, an early investor in Vionx Energy, added: “The flow-battery system from Vionx reflects many years of concentrated design, testing and manufacturing expertise, as evidenced by the unique and highly qualified partners working with the company. We are very pleased to be investors in Vionx and to witness the company emerging as an important leader in this critical and large-growth market.”
And Jeffrey Hohn, 3M’s vice president of renewable energy, added: “Vionx’s energy storage system represents a significant advance in flow battery technology, and 3M is pleased to have the opportunity to draw upon our broad fuel cell, membrane and electrode assembly expertise to enable lower cost and longer life electrode assemblies for flow batteries. We view this technology as a key enabler for improved grid resiliency and the continued deployment of sustainable, renewable generation.”
John Dargan, Jabil’s senior vice president, said: “Business disruption across the energy sector is accelerating at record pace. At Jabil we focus on helping customers like Vionx Energy with the world’s leading global manufacturing and design services. Vionx’s new flow battery technology will represent a leap forward for grid storage technology. As the exclusive manufacturer for Vionx’s storage system, we are proud to be part of the unique and influential group coming together to support Vionx energy and flow battery technology.”
Vionx Energy has recently delivered a large-scale storage system to the US Army at Fort Devens in Massachusetts and is poised to announce additional projects.
The vanadium redox energy storage system brings together an eight to ten hour runtime with maintained capacity over a 20-year lifespan and delivers flexible integrated, long duration energy storage. The integrated system comprises energy storage, power conditioning, system control and thermal management subsystems packaged into turn-key building blocks placed wherever needed for instantaneous dispatch.