Bushveld Minerals Limited (LON:BMN), the AIM-listed integrated vanadium producer with additional investments in coal, power and tin, has today provided an operational update in respect of its 84 per cent owned energy subsidiary, Bushveld Energy Limited (“Bushveld Energy”).
Fortune Mojapelo, CEO of Bushveld Minerals Ltd, commented:
“We are delighted by the significant progress made by Bushveld Energy in the first quarter of 2018 as it moves forward on delivering on its key aim of exploiting the commercial opportunity of Vanadium Redox Flow Battery (“VRFB”) technology within the energy storage market. During the quarter we progressed our two immediate priorities, preparing for the construction of our vanadium electrolyte plant in South Africa and the delivery of our first energy storage system to Eskom. Both projects remain on track.
“We are experiencing increased requests for electrolyte supply and VRFB technology for energy storage projects, both globally and in Africa, even in the context of decade-high vanadium prices. The prevailing price environment, coupled with ownership of a low cost vanadium production base, creates a uniquely attractive opportunity for Bushveld. In this context, our vertical integration strategy, and development of innovative business models for electrolyte delivery into VRFBs, strongly positions us to support adoption of VRFBs in the energy storage market while creating significant value for our shareholders.
“Furthermore, we are encouraged by the establishment of the South Africa Energy Storage Association (“SAESA”), of which Bushveld Energy CEO, Mikhail Nikomarov, has been elected to serve as the Association’s first Chairman.”
OPERATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS FOR BUSHVELD ENERGY PROJECTS:
Electrolyte production facility
· Engaged an international chemicals company that has already designed and built a vanadium electrolyte production plant with multiple megalitre annual capacity. The scope of the engagement in the first phase includes:
– Independent verification and improvement of the existing process flow and plant design to cover both the process at Vametco and that of the greenfield facility in the East London Industrial Development Zone (“EL IDZ”);
– Greater certainty of the cost estimate for the dual-located processing assets;
– Joint work with Bushveld Energy and Bushveld Vametco to expand Vametco’s current laboratory capabilities to include testing of electrolyte in-house and production of batch, single-acid vanadium electrolyte as samples to prospective VRFB customers;
– Preparation of the project for the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) phase, which is planned for the third quarter of this year.
· Tendered for environmental assessment that needs to be performed at both Vametco and EL IDZ.
Eskom VRFB project
· Completed manufacturing of the Direct Current (“DC”) portion of the VRFB, with factory acceptance expected in April 2018 and delivery of the entire system still on track in the second quarter of this year;
· Commenced site preparation work at the Eskom site, including earthworks and cabling;
· Appointed two technicians from South Africa to perform installation and maintenance on the Eskom project. Technicians will be training at UniEnergy Technologies, a US-based leading VRFB manufacturer, in April. This will give Bushveld Energy the capability to install and maintain future VRFB installations in South Africa and regionally.
· The growth of VRFB deployments continues to grow globally, led by China. Market intelligence points to two more ~400MWh sized VRFBs that will be procured in China in addition to the 800MWh system by Rongke Power and ~400MWh system by Pu Neng, which have already been announced;
· In South Africa, demand continues to rise, evidenced both by greater enquiries for provision of single-acid vanadium electrolyte or direct projects that require energy storage for at least four hours per day. This has allowed Bushveld Energy to continue growing its regional project pipeline. However, conversion of potential projects is currently low due to regulatory uncertainty over the treatment of energy storage, the lack of progress of South Africa’s renewable energy programme and opaque official guidance on the direction of the country’s energy policy as published in the Department of Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan.
· On a positive note, the new government in South Africa and the renewal of investor confidence that it has brought are encouraging signs that suggest a move towards increased regulatory clarity;
· In another sign of market maturity, SAESA was created this quarter. Bushveld Energy is proud to note that its CEO, Mikhail Nikomarov, was elected to serve as its first Chairman. SAESA’s mission is to create a more resilient, accessible, efficient, sustainable, and affordable energy system in Africa by educating stakeholders, advocating for public policies, accelerating energy storage growth, and adding value to the energy storage industry.
Bushveld Energy 2018 Focus
Going forward Bushveld Energy will continue to focus on its stated priorities, being:
Deploy VRFB systems into market:
· Deliver the first VRFB project with Eskom in Q2 CY18
· Grow the project pipeline across Africa
· Complete environmental work and all requirements at Vametco and at the EL IDZ
· Start the Engineering, Procurement and Construction of the electrolyte facility
· Supply samples to VRFB OEMs and secure interest in electrolyte offtake
Position Bushveld Energy as a thought leader in energy storage in Africa and in VRFBs globally