Jan De Nul and Engie launch industrial-scale pilot with flow batteries

Civil engineering company Jan De Nul, energy provider Engie, and worldwide expert in technical service Equans have launched a pilot project focusing on using Vanadium Redox Flow batteries on an industrial scale as an alternative to lithium-ion batteries.

Belgian Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten (Groen), the CEOs of Engie Belgium, Equans Belux, and Jan De Nul, and Invinity’s Chairman Neil O’Brien attended the inauguration event on March 27th.

Sustainable complement

Vanadium Redox Flow batteries are still relatively unknown to the general public and could become a safe and sustainable complement to the widely used lithium-ion batteries.

These new batteries are innovative and mature enough technically and commercially to play a major part in the energy transition. They can be deployed as a replacement for or complement to lithium-ion batteries, a/o for local renewable energy production on industrial sites or in centralized setups.

Added value in transition

Equans installed a Vanadium Redox Flow battery, manufactured by Invinity Energy Systems, with an 800 kWh capacity at the Jan De Nul site in Hofstade (near Aalst), connected to their 578kW solar panel installation.

The three partners will investigate how these batteries could optimize power management in an industrial environment and how they can represent an added value in the transition toward a carbon-free economy.

Research center Engie Laborelec already conducted successful lab tests with a Redox Flow Battery in 2019. Now, they are testing the control and maintenance of this technology on an industrial scale.

Safer and more suitable for hotter climates

Unlike lithium-ion batteries, Redox Flow batteries have a lifespan of at least 25 years, a capacity that ages very little over time, and a natural storage capacity of several hours. Moreover, they are safer because there is no risk of thermal runaway and are, therefore, more suitable for hotter climates.

Jan De Nul Group is a family business operating worldwide. Its expertise is based on five main activities: offshore energy, dredging and marine construction works, civil engineering works, environmental activities, and project development.

Julie De Nul, CEO at Jan De Nul: “We install wind farms and interconnectors, redevelop historic pollution into sources of sustainable energy, and with this project, we are one step further towards sustainable business management.”

‘Frontrunner in innovation’

Vincent Verbeke, CEO of ENGIE Belgium: “As pioneers in the energy transition, we look beyond the well-known lithium-ion battery, and we dare to choose innovation. There are still very few examples in Europe of large-scale projects with Redox Flow batteries. This pilot project puts Belgium in the spotlight as a frontrunner in innovation in the energy sector.”

Laborelec, a unit of ENGIE Research & Innovation, is a leading expertise and research center in electrical energy.


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