One of China’s largest BESS integrators, Sungrow New Energy, in mid-May started construction of its inaugural manufacturing base in Da’an, Jilin Province, northeast China. Sungrow New Energy plans to invest RMB12.6 billion (USD1.78 billion) into multiple non-lithium-ion battery manufacturing facilities, including sodium-ion and all-iron flow batteries. In addition, the company will establish a 1GW hydrogen-based renewable energy demonstration project.

A multi-faceted project

Of the total RMB12.6 billion (USD1.78 billion) allocated to the project in Da’an, RMB3 billion (USD0.42 billion) will go towards the establishment of battery manufacturing facilities. This includes a sodium ion battery manufacturing facility, size yet to be announced, a 3GWh all-iron flow battery gigafactory, as well as a 6,000 tons (5,440 tonnes) per annum nano silicon-carbon anode material manufacturing facility. These facilities are expected to come online by June 2025.

The remaining RMB9.6 billion (USD1.35 billion) will be invested to create a 1GW hydrogen-based green energy demonstration zone. This will include wind power, solar power, and corresponding facilities for producing green hydrogen and green methanol using clean energy. From this project, the company hopes to demonstrate the efficiency with which green energy can be used in industrial development. This segment of the project is expected to be operational by June 2027.

Sungrow New Energy diversifying its technology

Historically, Sungrow New Energy has operated exclusively as a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) integrator, without a cell production strategy of its own, sourcing all its cells from other companies. As one of the largest buyers of batteries for storage systems, its suppliers include major companies such as CATL, EVE, and Battero Technology. Notably, the new facility in Da’an will not include lithium-ion battery production.

However, on 22nd May, it was reported that Sungrow New Energy established a subsidiary, Anhui Xuanyang Power Technology, to focus on battery manufacturing and energy storage technology services. This marks a significant strategic shift for Sungrow, as it begins to diversify and expand its capabilities in the energy storage sector.

Rho’s evaluation, the flow battery market

The use of flow batteries in the global energy storage market is largely confined to China, with few projects outside the country. Even within China, their use is limited. Most flow battery projects utilise vanadium-ion technology, with a total of 1.06 GWh in operation and an additional 14.79 GWh announced in China. In contrast, there is only one operational all-iron flow battery project in China, with a capacity of 8 MWh.

However, increasingly flow batteries are becoming more common in the storage industry as they offer longer duration and cyclability in comparison to lithium-ion technologies. This aligns with China’s government encouraging longer duration batteries.

With most of the focus is on vanadium-ion flow batteries, it is therefore particularly significant that Sungrow New Energy has chosen to focus on all-iron flow batteries for its first battery manufacturing facility. This decision highlights Sungrow’s commitment to diversifying its energy storage solutions and exploring the potential of alternative battery technologies.

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Sources: BJX, Hexun