Posted by: giles.arbor 4th April 2016
Bushveld Minerals Limited (LON:BMN), a diversified mineral development company with a portfolio of vanadium, titanium, iron ore, tin and coal assets in Africa is pleased to announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (the “MoU”) between its 84% owned energy subsidiary, Bushveld Energy Limited (“Bushveld Energy”), and UniEnergy Technologies (“UET”).
UET is a United States of America based manufacturer of turn-key, large and medium-scale energy storage systems for utility, micro-grid, commercial and industrial, and other applications. The core of the UET system is an advanced vanadium redox flow battery (“VRFB”), with breakthrough electrolyte, state-of-the-art containerised design, mature large-scale stacks, and optimised power electronics and controls.
Launched in January 2016, Bushveld Energy is focused on developing and promoting the role of vanadium in the growing global energy storage market through application in vanadium redox flow batteries. Its near term strategy is to install several VRFB systems during 2016 as part of its longer term vision to become one of the more significant electricity storage providers in Africa by 2020, meeting the demand for utility scale energy storage in Africa by leveraging South Africa-mined and beneficiated vanadium.
The signed MoU provides a framework of cooperation between the two companies in the development of market opportunities for vanadium-redox flow batteries and has two broad objectives:
· Use synergies between two the companies to identify and develop immediate business opportunities in Africa for large and medium sized VRFB installations. The focus is on large commercial customers, as well as industrial and utility applications, where energy storage either reduces energy costs (e.g. in off-grid locations) or adds additional value for the energy user;
· Develop a strategy to create a vanadium value chain in South Africa that includes vanadium electrolyte manufacturing, VRFB manufacturing and local component sourcing in the medium term. Both companies see South Africa as having favourable competitive advantages to become an additional base for VRFB manufacturing to meet the forecasted growth in energy storage adoption.
While most of the focus of energy storage to date has been in North America, Europe and Asia, Africa may offer a unique and significant opportunity. Grid penetration is below 50% in most countries, leading to significant off-grid opportunities, where diesel is the primary source of energy. Similarly, the recent USA Power Act and the previously launched Power Africa initiative will likely open up more opportunities in supporting energy generation in Africa.
Pursuant to the signing of the MoU, Bushveld and UET have started evaluating several potential opportunities for VRFB installations and additional collaboration partners.
Commenting on the MoU, Fortune Mojapelo, CEO of Bushveld Minerals Limited, said, “Africa’s insufficient power infrastructure and rapidly growing electricity demand create a unique environment for immediate, mass-scale adoption of energy storage, especially in tandem with rising renewable energy generation adoption. The MoU with UET is a significant step in Bushveld Energy’s development, providing a platform for collaboration with a credible technology partner that not only has a strong track record in the technology development of VRFBs but is also a commercial manufacturer of quality VRFB systems. This achievement also underscores the opportunity for South Africa to beneficiate its mineral resources further and as a result develop new industrial opportunities. It is just the first step in Bushveld Energy’s efforts to promote the role of vanadium in the growing energy storage market through smart partnerships and innovative business models. Partnerships are key to our business model. We look forward to developing this relationship further to reach our aspiration to assemble and eventually manufacture VRFB systems in South Africa, which will go a long way in further reducing costs of the VRFB systems while maximising the beneficiation dividend of locally mined and produced vanadium”.
Commenting on the MoU, John F. DeBoever, VP of Eastern Sales of UniEnergy Technologies, said, “The MoU with Bushveld Energy is a positive step toward securing UET’s position to deliver to the African continent UET’s field-proven energy storage systems, filling critical needs in establishing reliable grid-tied and off-grid energy systems. The rapidly growing interest and market opportunities in Africa for UET’s medium- and large-scale advanced vanadium redox flow batteries, combined with Bushveld Energy’s South African local presence, and an extensive knowledge of, and network within, the African energy market, offer unique synergies between our respective operations to provide long-term solutions to address today challenges and tomorrow future ambitions of the African continent’s electric grids. We are pleased to develop further this partnership with Bushveld Energy and looking forward in deploying flexible, long life, safe, and economic energy storage systems, and to provide the best value for the customers on the African continent.”