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IEC to Start Examination of Redox Flow Batteries in Response to Japan’s Globally Standardizing Proposal-Japan’s comprehensive survey including reconnaissance geological surveys to ascertain the amount of shallow methane hydrate-

In October 2013, the Japanese Industrial Standards Committee (JISC), with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) acting as secretariat, proposed that the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) set international standards concerning the safety of redox flow batteries. In response, the IEC decided to establish a framework to examine the proposal, and then begin the thorough examination process. Japan will promote the standardization of redox flow batteries in collaboration with related countries.

1. Current situation surrounding redox flow batteries

Redox flow batteries are storage batteries that use the reduction and oxidation reaction (redox reaction) of ions, e.g., vanadium, when they charge and discharge. They have a long lifespan with little degradation of electrodes and electrolytes, and their characteristics, including materials that are not ignitable and that can operate under normal temperatures, are suitable for storage batteries for electricity grids. Considering these advantages, they are expected to become a critical technology for stabilizing power grids, which will be necessary for expanding the introduction of renewable energy, including photovoltaic and wind power.

In Japan, Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd. has already established technologies to commercialize such redox flow batteries and has built a mass-production framework ahead of other enterprises overseas. However, overseas enterprises also appear to be proactively disseminating such batteries more widely. In order to accelerate the popularization of redox flow batteries in domestic and overseas markets, it is indispensable for Japan to contribute to globally standardizing the technology, as a forerunner of products and technologies in the field of such batteries.

2. Japan’s efforts for globally standardizing the batteries and international trends in standardization

Considering these situations, on October 30, 2013, the JISC, with METI acting as secretariat, submitted to the IEC a new proposal for setting international standards for the safety of batteries, a key element that is critical for the introduction of redox flow batteries. In response, in February 2014, the IEC approved the proposal as an official new proposal after its voting period of three months.

In addition, both prior and subsequent to Japan’s submission of the proposal, China submitted a proposal to the IEC to establish global standards for functions of redox flow batteries, while Spain submitted a proposal aimed at setting other international standards for terminology and definitions of such batteries. In response, the IEC created a Joint Working Group (JWG) of two technical committees, namely IEC/TC21 for secondary cells and batteries and IEC/TC105 for fuel cell technologies, and a framework for examining the proposals was established. Furthermore, Dr. Fumio Ueno, chairman of IEC/TC105, was appointed as a JWG convener to facilitate discussions. Concerning Japan’s proposal, Sumitomo Electric Industries has been chosen to serve as project leader.

Japan will promote efforts towards globally standardizing redox flow batteries in collaboration with other related countries, aiming to contribute to facilitating the dissemination of such batteries, encouraging Japanese enterprises to explore global markets, and promoting the introduction of renewable energy.


As a part of the efforts towards utilizing redox flow batteries to expand the introduction of renewable energy, METI selected Hokkaido Electric Power Co., Inc. and Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd. as operators of the FY2012 Large-scale Storage Battery System Demonstration Project. Under this project, these companies are jointly examining how well the batteries function in addressing the various issues of frequency variation and fluctuations in supply-demand balances over a long period of time.

METI news release about the FY2012 Large-scale Storage Battery System Demonstration Project:

For further details, see the Japanese language press release.

Release Date

April 15, 2014

Division in Charge

Standardization Office for Information Technology and Electrotechnology, Industrial Science and Technology Policy and Environment Bureau, METI

Information on the FY2012 Large-scale Storage Battery System Demonstration Project
New and Renewable Energy Division, Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy Department, Agency for Natural Resources and Energy

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