Leclanché’s dual strategy for growth

The massive Leclanché battery order for Hecate Canada Storage II in Ontario is just one of the signs that its targeting of the stationary energy storage and electric vehicle markets is paying off. Photo Credit: De Lijn

The massive Leclanché battery order for Hecate Canada Storage II in Ontario is just one of the signs that its targeting of the stationary energy storage and electric vehicle markets is paying off. Photo Credit: De Lijn

By Jason Deign

The world’s oldest battery company isn’t clinging to the past. Leclanché, of Switzerland, is betting on its two newest lines of business for future growth, said Jacques Boppe, the company’s vice president of corporate development.

“Stationary storage is a growth business and transportation is a growth market,” said Boppe.

Both areas were given separate business unit status in January 2015 as part of a turnaround plan that saw Anil Srivastava, the former boss of Areva Renewables, taking the helm of the company in June 2014.

The turnaround followed financial troubles that resulted in Leclanché’s German subsidiary needing a €5m bailout from the Bruellan Corporate Governance Action Fund in 2012.

Boppe said Leclanché is expecting both business units to blossom while it continues to serve its legacy business, creating and distributing custom battery systems for specialist customers such as the Swiss Army, from a third unit.
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Will this be the year of energy storage software?

Will 2016 be the year of energy storage software and virtual power plants? We look at developments from companies who are driving the industry like Greensmith, Autogrid Systems and Electro Power Systems, Sonnenbatterie and LichtBlick.

Energy storage software and virtual power plants: We look at developments from companies driving the industry, like Greensmith, Autogrid Systems and Electro Power Systems, Sonnenbatterie and LichtBlick. Photo: Electro Power Systems

By Jason Deign

Recent announcements have signalled growing interest in the development of software systems that can tie energy storage assets together to form virtual power plants.

Last month, for example, the European utility E.ON joined American Electric Power as a major investor in Greensmith, one of the world’s largest providers of energy storage software and integration services.

Meanwhile the energy analytics software firm AutoGrid Systems, of Redwood in California, USA, joined forces with Paris-based hydrogen storage developer Electro Power Systems to build and operate “software-defined power plants.”

The December announcements follow a growing number of energy storage software developments in 2015.

E.ON’s interest in Greensmith, for example, could be seen as countermeasure against Sonnenbatterie’s November announcement of a community based energy-trading platform in Germany.
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Greensmith: segment-specific products in view

With new investment, Greensmith Energy Management Systems is set to develop sector-specific energy storage software packages and to expand internationally.

With new investment, Greensmith Energy Management Systems is developing sector-specific energy storage software packages and expanding internationally. Photo: Greensmith

By Jason Deign

Greensmith, the storage control system developer, is setting its sights on the development of sector-specific software packages after releasing new aggregation functionality this month.

Long-term the company is hoping to have a portfolio of sector-specific software packages similar to those found in enterprise resource planning, according to John Jung, chief executive.

Jung also told Energy Storage Report that Greensmith was planning to expand beyond its US homeland next year, with partnerships planned for next year across Europe and Asia.

It is already working beyond US borders, in Australia and Canada. “In places like the UK and Germany I’d be very surprised if we are not doing a number of projects in 2016,” Jung said.

“I think Korea, Japan and China also are major targets for us in 2016. Our approach to penetration isn’t to set up shop independently but to really work with the local power value chain that is already set up and established.

“We definitely expect to establish some base camps in some of those key countries.”
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LG Chem: C&I to be as big as grid-scale

LG Chem battery boss sees huge growth in C&I storage. LG Chem is also taking on Tesla in home energy storage and increasing its grid-scale projects.

LG Chem battery storage boss sees huge growth in C&I storage. The company is also taking on Tesla in home energy storage and increasing grid-scale projects. Photo: LG Chem

By Jason Deign

A top executive at LG Chem has added to growing optimism over the prospects for commercial and industrial (C&I) energy storage growth in the US.

Peter Gibson, LG Chem’s director of energy storage system sales, told Energy Storage Report: “In North America, revenue-wise the C&I segment in the next five years could be as large as or even greater than grid-scale.”

His sentiment echoes views expressed by project developers such as Sharp and Demand Energy, which are seeing growing interest in behind-the-meter systems among large energy users.

“Looking at the advantages storage can bring to demand-charge management, we’re very optimistic about how large that C&I segment could grow in the next five years,” Gibson said.

LG Chem last month unveiled a partnership with the worldwide electrical distributor Gexpro, the operating system developer Geli and the power converter maker Ideal Power to target the C&I market.
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Unleashing value in energy storage management systems

Advances in battery management systems and software are proving that the key to cost-effective energy storage might not be what you use… but how you use it. Photo credit: Greensmith Energy Management Systems

Recent advances in battery management systems and software could dramatically reduce the cost of energy storage. Photo credit: Greensmith Energy Management Systems

Recent battery management system advances are increasingly proving that the key to cost-effective energy storage might not be what you use… but how you use it.

Last year, for example, Energy Storage Report unveiled news of a French start-up called Enerstone, which is commercialising an active battery management system that can extend the lifespan of batteries by up to 30%.

The system monitors the health of each cell and redistributes loads so that “weaker ones work less than stronger ones, to extend the battery life to the benefit of the user,” explained Enerstone’s president and co-founder Alexander Chureau.

This month, meanwhile, a senior executive at Greensmith unveiled that its energy storage management systems had made it possible for lithium-ion batteries to beat lead-acid not just on performance but also on cost.

In one particular project, “the deployment of lithium-ion was half the price of lead-acid over the lifetime of the system, and it’s entirely due to software,” Leesa Lee, senior vice president, product management and marketing, told Energy Storage Report.
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ZEN improves domestic energy storage

The South Australian firm ZEN claims that its active balancing battery management system halves the expense of storing electricity, compared to other lithium-ion units, reports the Brisbane Times. ZEN is primarily a software company, rather than a conventional battery manufacturer, and has applied its expertise to batteries produced by its sister company, the US-based Greensmith Energy Management Systems.

The 20kWh Freedom PowerBank is the size of a large fridge and currently retails at AUD$30,000 (USD$31,000), although the company hopes this will go down to AUD$20,000 once production is ramped up. The company hopes the unit will find favour with those wanting to store low-cost, night-time electricity for use in the day, when prices can go up by a factor of five. It would also benefit those wanting to dispense entirely with their grid supplier.