Apathy an industry killer, says CEO

Battery technology is stuck in the 1970s and we are all to blame, says the co-founder and CEO of Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) Technologies. Well, he didn’t exactly say that, but Fernando Gomez-Baquero pointed the finger at “industry-wide apathy” in an interview which recently ran in ZDNet.

His point was that users are not demanding better results from batteries and manufacturers supplying everything from smart phones to electric vehicle modules are generally happy too churn out cheap, tried-and-tested, lower-quality products instead of taking risks with keenly-priced higher-tech options.

Gomez-Baquero also makes the point that mobile device manufacturers will need to take a global view of power management in order to make up for what he sees as the shortcomings of current lithium-ion batteries.

San Diego zoo debuts energy storage

It converts sunlight into energy, charges electric vehicles and delivers access power to the grid. And it keeps your car cool while you go feed the elephants. The newly unveiled parking lot at San Diego zoo has solar canopies that can produce up to 90kW of electricity, five car-charging stations and the possibility to deliver energy to the grid. Best of all, it has two lithium-polymer storage units, with a total capacity of 100kW.

According to an article on the KPBS site, the energy storage element is a first for this type of project. And the installation has so impressed the University of California in San Diego that it is considering building a similar power hub on campus.

Electric car batteries enjoy life after death

They may add thousands of dollars to the purchase price of the vehicle itself, but now it looks like used Chevrolet Volt batteries will extend their usefulness in the greening of society beyond their use on the road.

ABB and GM have announced that the lithium-ion packs that power the Chevy Volt have been successfully re-used in a prototype unit that provides 25kW of power and 50kWh of energy for the home, enough to electrify three to five average US homes for two hours, say ABB.

The back-up energy storage unit repackages five used batteries, thus considerably extending their total useful lives and, perhaps, making the initial high cost of the batteries a more attractive initial investment.

US military vehicles go electric

It is not just tree-huggers who are embracing electric vehicles: the US Army has several in the pipeline. This means opportunities for energy storage companies, such as Saft, which has just been awarded USD$1.3 million from weapons manufacturer BAE Systems.

The funding is for the continued development of a Lithium-ion energy storage system for the US Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle programme. Saft, which is designing and building ultra-high-power cells for the vehicle’s hybrid electric drive system, has already completed the demo battery system including hardware and software, says the company.

Scandline ferry gets marine battery pack

Corvus Energy will provide ferry company Scandline with a 2.7MWh power pack consisting of an AT6500 advanced lithium polymer battery system for an existing diesel electric ferry, reports MarineLink.com. The batteries will last for more than 10 years, says Corvus, and can be charged in 30 minutes by renewable, shore or generator power.

Electrovaya wins Indian business on PM’s tour

Advanced battery manufacturer Electrovaya has announced the signing of two memorandums of understanding for its lithium-ion batteries, signed while accompanying Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper on a trade mission to India. One agreement is with existing customer Hero Eco, to supply more batteries for its electric bikes in Europe, North America and India.

The other is with new client Environ Energy (a.k.a. Bhaskar Solar, part of a USD$4 billion Indian conglomerate), to supply batteries for telecommunications applications.

Mixed news for zinc-bromide company

First the bad news. Zinc-bromide energy storage company ZBB has announced losses of $2.88 million, or 4 cents a share, in the fiscal first quarter, as compared with $1.7 million for the same period last year.

But the good news is the company has snapped up a long-term supply agreement from an unidentified engine manufacturer for electronics used in hybrid electric buses, which will result in orders of $1.36 million, including $500,000 worth of orders that are being shipped in this quarter.