US flow battery maker ViZn Energy goes under

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It’s a difficult world for battery makers competing with lithium-ion technology. While flow batteries have advertised the many benefits of their technology such as longer duration energy, safety and longer working lifetimes, they are up against the rapidly increasing scale and falling costs of lithium-ion technology, which is being driven by the much larger electric vehicle industry.

Battery maker ViZn Energy appears to be the latest casualty of these challenges. According to local Montana paper, the Flathead Beacon, the company laid off all of its 70 employees in Montana and Texas on March 16 and has ceased operations.

The paper quotes company officials in describing this as a “temporary furlough” while it seeks investors and gets its finances in order; however the company has been showing signs of instability for months.

In January ViZn announced that Stephen Bonner, who had been elected to chair of its board less than one month earlier, had replaced renewable energy veteran Ron Van Dell. Bonner, an investor, formerly worked in the healthcare industry.

Vizn Energy made a splash in the headlines with their initial PPA offering, “A ViZn 30 MW, 4-hour system added to a 100 MW solar plant can generate a seven percent internal rate of return (IRR) with a 4¢/kWh power purchase agreement (PPA) — 20 percent below the lowest published values.”