VRBs will forever change the storage capacity of wind and solar energy

Written By: Jen Neville
October 22, 2018

VRBs will forever change the storage capacity of wind and solar energy

It's no longer a technological maybe. Vanadium is here, and the lithium sector should be concerned. The energy storage market is expected to reach $13-billion by 2025. And renewable energy, and the batteries behind the electric vehicle revolution are about to change forever. Right now, the future is about vanadium. Its price has more than doubled in the past year and supply is getting tighter by the day. And one little-known explorer in Colorado claimed to have recently unearthed a potential huge vanadium reserve.

United Battery Metals is potentially poised to be the only U.S. source of this most precious of rare earth metals.

According to a report authored by Anthony Adkins in 2013, the Wray Mesa Project in Montrose County, Colorado, is sitting on a massive estimated reserve of 2.7 million pounds of vanadium, along with over 500,000 tons of uranium as a bonus. That may mean an American source of the rare earth metal powering the "liquid electricity" breakthrough. It makes the electric vehicle push look like child's play. It doesn't get any more strategic than this.

Here are 5 reasons to keep a close eye on United Battery Metals as the next battery revolution begins:

#1 Billionaire Miners, World Leaders Swarming on Vanadium

It's impossible to talk about vanadium without talking about Robert Friedland. The legendary mining billionaire and recipient of the 2017 Northern Miner's Lifetime Achievement Award knows vanadium is revolutionary, evolutionary and very likely a game changer in energy.

Obama even said "vanadium redox fuel cells" was "one of the coolest things I've ever said out loud".

First developed by NASA for aerospace applications, vanadium redox fuel cell batteries now have a much bigger-and broader-future. And late last year, Trump signed an executive order to develop a federal strategy to ensure "secure and reliable supplies" of critical minerals, including vanadium because the U.S. is reliant 100 percent on imports of these minerals.

#2 Vanadium Is The Missing Link That's Just Been Found Right At Home

Vanadium redox batteries like Cellcube will be used in car-charging stations worldwide. Cellcube's batteries are already installed in 130 places across 24 countries-and counting and United Battery Metals is hoping to capitalize on growing demand. There are the Tesla batteries acting as backup for a wind farm in Australia. There's PG&E building the world's biggest battery in California to store electricity for its grid. And there's the $3 billion project to turn the Hoover Dam into one big battery. It's possible because vanadium flow batteries store their energy in tanks. The fluid that transfers charges inside a battery flows from one tank through the system and back again, making a closed circuit. They can charge and discharge simultaneously.

For renewable energy it is a game-changer. VRBs will forever change the storage capacity of wind and solar energy, making them more reliable and cheaper.

Vanadium is superior to lithium in so many ways.

-Its longevity is infinite
-It's not explosive, flammable or toxic, no corrosive salts that come with lithium
-Not only can it be scaled up cheaply, but it's actually cheaper to scale it up, making it the antithesis of lithium

This last point, and the real kicker is this: Vanadium batteries are already providing complete energy storage systems for $500 per kilowatt hour. In less than a year, that should be down to $300. By 2020, this could be $150/kilowatt hour.

#3 A Game-Changing Colorado Property

There's an indicated resource of 500,000 pounds of uranium and an estimated resource of 2.7mm pounds of vanadium at United Battery Metals, Wray Mesa Project in Colorado. The mineral resource base estimate here was made using a 739-drill hole database showing an indicated resource of approximately 500,000 pounds of uranium and an estimated resource of some 2.7 million pounds of vanadium.

With current ferro vanadium prices at $79 per kilogram, 2.7 million pounds (1,227,000 Kg) would be a $96M gross take for a company that has a market cap of roughly $20 million. Ferro vanadium is an alloy made from vanadium and iron. Current unprocessed vanadium prices are about $18.50 per pound. And that's not even considering new exploration. Nor does United Battery Metals have all its eggs in a single rare earth's basket: This was originally a uranium resource, and this is a double win because vanadium can also be used in nuclear energy.

#4 Vanadium Prices Under Severe Pressure

Vanadium prices soared more than 130 percent in the past year, outperforming other battery metals like cobalt, lithium and nickel. By January of this year, prices of ferro-vanadium had hit a nine-year high of $59/kg. They've gained $20 since then.

#5 The Super-Charged Electric Evolution

The world doesn't just need a ton of batteries anymore-it needs scale, and lithium won't cut it. Tesla's battery Gigafactory in Nevada has seen a lot of press. But it's nothing compared to the vanadium redux-flow battery factory belonging to Rongke Power in China. It covers an area bigger than 20 soccer fields. Having a primary supply of vanadium electrolyte is key to winning this game, and United Battery Metals has already staked out America's key strategic patch in Colorado.

According to sources, nearly all of the world's vanadium comes from South Africa, China and Russia. The U.S. has been missing out on this revolution, but with its first vanadium resource identified, and the trade war with China heating up, the timing could not be better for UBM. In United Battery Metals, there is apparently a team of experienced rare earth geologists sitting on the only American vanadium that experts know about.

Now that the Chinese are pushing vanadium religiously, the U.S. needs to catch up. A $10-million market cap company sitting on an estimated resource of 2.7 million pounds of vanadium will help it do that.

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