VRB Energy Lands New Investment with Old Patents

On July 2, 2021, Canadian vanadium flow battery producer VRB Energy announced it had landed $24 million in funding from Thai renewable energy group BCPG. The investment is expected to speed up VRB’s commercialization of its utility-scale third generation vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB). The demand for renewable energy and the ability to store it has grown rapidly across the Asia-Pacific region, with BCPG now on the forefront of bringing utility-scale flow battery energy storage to the area. In May 2020, BCPG was the first company to bring renewable energy storage to Thailand with its wind-plus-storage project.  

VRB Energy has a successful VRFB business and has deployed around 40 MWh of VRFB technology worldwide. The Canadian company has also recently been awarded a 100 MW/500 MWh project in Hubei Province, China and is working on a deal with the local government in the area to build a VFRB factory that will produce 1,000 MW per year.

VRB plans to use its new funding from BCPG to scale up its new third generation flow battery, but the patents supporting VRB’s technology are anything but new. VRB has 17 U.S. patents and applications related to flow batteries, and while its patent for a proton exchange membrane was recently issued in 2021, VRB has not filed any applications for its flow battery technology since 2013. While older patents typically represent novel innovations that are years ahead of the market, VRB’s lack of recent applications may signal an inability to keep up with the fast-paced technological developments in the flow battery industry.

VRB’s batteries have proven successful in many of its projects, but its outdated patent strategy puts the company at a disadvantage compared to top competitors like Largo Clean Energy, which has continued to invest in patents. With BCPG’s investment to help VRB produce and scale up its third generation flow battery, we should expect to see more patent activity from VRB in the future.

Keep up with trends in flow batteries using the Energy Storage: Flow Battery Patent Forecast®.