51 MWh Vanadium Flow Battery Goes Online In Japan

Japanese technology major and part of the eponymous conglomerate, Sumitomo Electric has announced the start of the largest vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) energy storage systems in the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido from April 1. The battery is also one of the largest worldwide of its type.
Sumitomo Electric said that the 17MW/51MWh VRFB system will integrate local wind energy onto the grid.
In Japan, land has been an issue for renewable energy developers, especially for solar projects. However, Hokkaido island, despite having area available, faces the challenge of balancing the large renewable capacities being set up, as evacuation facilities for the power generated lags. Thus, the case for batteries to help manage excess generation and store it for us. This led to the decision by the regional utility firm to mandate storage for all grid connected renewable projects coming up in Hokkaido. The island has limited interconnection to Honshu, Japan’s main populated island to its south.
That has made Hokkaido the place for Japan’s first Tesla Megapack BESS solution, besides a large solar-plus-storage project supplied by Sungrow.
Vanadium flow batteries offer a potentially long lifetime energy storage resource, capable of heavy duty cycling over an expected 20+ years in the field. They also offer the ability to scale up energy storage capacity simply by increasing the size of liquid electrolyte tanks, unlike lithium batteries, which need to add more cell stacks and more balance of plant equipment as they add capacity.
VRFBs are also considered to be safer than other batteries, due to their operation at room temperature and lack of combustible materials used in their construction. Their big challenge however is higher initial costs.
Hokkaido Electric, the power firm in the region has invited offers from applicants that want to interconnect their renewable energy facilities to the grid and 15 companies will share the capacity the flow battery systems helps to free up. Costs of the battery will be shared by Hokkaido Electric and the other stakeholders.