Thematic Field: Sustainable Nuclear and Renewable Convergence
Energy storage is critical for the integration of intermittent renewable energy sources into the
energy mix. There is a wide portfolio of potential energy storage technologies and among these
rechargeable flow batteries offer a number of advantages, including near unlimited longevity.
But current implementations do not yet have the right balance between power and cost to meet industry needs.
FlowBox is a new energy storage solution that can produce and store electricity by combining hydrobromic
acid with hydrogen. Based on the existing 50 kW flow battery prototype designed by EnStorage, the FlowBox
team aims to optimise EnStorage’s technology to create a 150 kW demonstration module and prove that this
could be a competitive and highly efficient solution for the integration of renewable energies.
Research teams at AREVA, a leading industry player in nuclear and renewable energy, had been working
around energy storage and hydrogen systems for many years. Although the technology was suitable for
different types of application, it was not seen as a marketable solution. However, at the beginning
of 2012, the research team saw considerable potential in the innovative work being carried out by
Israeli start-up, EnStorage, whose technology for flow batteries appeared to offer better performance
at a lower level of capital expenditure than existing solutions.
AREVA launched a detailed assessment of EnStorage’s concept and then signed a collaboration agreement
to develop a competitive storage product, based on EnStorage’s core stack. Schneider Electric joined
the project, and FlowBox was born. Its goal was to evaluate new flow battery technology and to prove
its ability to serve its target market, with validation studies focused on both its technical and economic feasibility.
When looking for financial support, the project leaders turned to InnoEnergy, as Guillaume Chazalet,
business development manager at Areva explained: “We looked at numerous sources, and we felt the
program from the InnoEnergy was the best for us. InnoEnergy offered us a funding framework that could
adapt to the life of the project, so we have been able to bring on new partners and change the project
structure. Other agencies don’t make these kind of adjustments possible. KIC InnoEnergy really understands
the challenges of building a project not just how to finance a project. They are very business focused and
very focused on delivering real-world solutions.”
AREVA is now leading the project, and has taken on responsibility for manufacturing, integrating and
installing the storage solution. Schneider Electric is designing, manufacturing and installing the
complementary power conversion system – and will act as the commercialising partner alongside EnStorage.
Other research and industry partners have subsequently joined the FlowBox innovation project and, after
eighteen months, FlowBox has now been installed at its first demonstration site.