Redox flow batteries will carve out a 360 MWh market in 2020 worth $190 million, according to a new report from Lux Research.
Commercial development of flow batteries is still in the early stages. Vanadium-based systems lead the market, accounting for 75 MWh of deployed systems. However, bromide-based systems are less expensive and will eventually perform better. In Lux Research’s model, vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFBs) are the most expensive flow battery chemistry, costing $516/kWh in 2024. Zinc bromide (ZnBr) will be the cheapest flow battery at $391/kWh in the same year, but questions remain surrounding their lifetime and operating costs.
While VRFB developers claim that sourcing vanadium from flyash will reduce costs from over $500/kWh today to $300/kWh at scale, Lux finds that even in the unrealistic scenario of a free vanadium electrolyte, VRFB system costs will be $324/kWh in 2024.
Because flow batteries suffer from relatively poor power density, improving this metric will drive costs down. Improvements in cell stack power density, for example, can cut VRFB system costs by 33 percent.
Flow batteries will remain limited to longer duration applications, competing directly with fast-moving targets in Li-ion and other next-generation storage technologies, Lux says.
The report, “Flow Battery Cost Reduction: Exploring Strategies to Improve Market Adoption,” is part of the Lux Research Energy Storage Intelligence service.
Navigant Research says the batteries industry as a whole is in the midst of a dramatic transformation. It predicts the overall advanced batteries industry will grow from a $20.1 billion market in 2014 to a $46.5 billion market in 2023.