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Invinity Energy Systems: Why flow batteries are 'a very good fit' for tidal generation

Image: Invinity Energy Systems

In November 2020, Invinity Energy Systems revealed it would be pairing its vanadium flow battery technology with the European Marine Energy Centre’s (EMEC) tidal generation on the Orkney Islands.

Together, these are to be used to produce continuous green hydrogen, with Invinity’s business development director Ed Porter telling Current± that the nature of tidal – with around four cycles occurring per day – means that it is a "very good fit" with flow batteries.

Being able to handle a number of cycles per day is “one of our core operating principles”, he said, adding that the idea of four cycles isn’t something you find in a lot of sites with wind and solar often having one cycle a day with the potential for 1.5 or two cycles if the right conditions occur on the wholesale market or ancillary services.

With the two technologies being complementary, tidal has been something Invinity has “always had an interest in working in”. The company has known EMEC for a number of years, with both of them operating in the space of developing new and innovative technologies.

“Those types of companies tend to come across each a fair few times,” Porter explained, stating that Invinity’s “always kind of fondly looked at EMEC and thought ‘this is great, we’d love to do something with them’”.

The opportunity did end up happening, with EMEC having looked at the requirements of their site – they needed something located in Orkney that could handle the heavy cycling of tidal – and done their own analysis before reaching out to Invinity.

Porter said that it wasn’t a case of EMEC looking for the best flow company but looking for the “best storage company out there that could meet this market requirement”, adding that “it's really reassuring for us to hear that someone independent has done that work and that's the kind of conclusion they come to”.

When it comes to the green hydrogen side of the project, the technology isn’t something that is in Invinity’s business case but enabling green hydrogen – as well as other sorts of processes – is “exactly what we’re aiming to do”, Porter confirmed, describing the company as a “key mechanism that allows electrolysers to do their job and get on with green hydrogen”.

This is one of many projects Invinity has worked on since the merger between what was then RedT and Avalon. This merger has led to Invinity being a “completely different business in terms of what we're able to handle what we're able to offer to the customers”.

“We are flat out on projects,” Porter finished. “People have never been more interested in getting energy storage and renewables put onto their sites.”

Editorial

Alice Grundy Reporter, Current±

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