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.

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Graphene research excites investor

Graphene is making an impact beyond the lab and into the boardroom, it seems. Graphite mining company Focus Graphite has reached an agreement to develop next-generation rechargeable batteries with Hydro-Quebec’s Reseach Institute, reports Proactive Investors UK.

The three-year research and development deal will actually be between the Institute and Focus’s privately-held joint venture Grafoid, with the eventual objective of producing rechargeable batteries based on graphene and lithium iron phosphate materials.

H2 company does deal with AEG

UK-based hydrogen technology and energy storage company ITM Power has announced it has signed an agreement with AEG Power Solutions to integrate its electrolyser technology with AEG’s power control electronics. Under the agreement, ITM Power and AEG will initially address five projects, ranging from imminent deployment to early proposal development.

This agreement with ITM represents the first time AEG’s power conversion technology will be coupled with polymer exchange membrane electrolysis, enabling rapid-response electrolysis at a scale appropriate for electricity grid balancing services, says ITM.

Leclanché obtains €5m bailout loan

Swiss lithium-ion battery producer Leclanché has announced that its German subsidiary, Leclanché GmbH, has obtained a €5 million (USD$6.5 million) bridging loan from the Bruellan Corporate Governance Action Fund, to cover its short-term funding needs. The loan expires in March 2013 and is secured with assets of Leclanché GmbH.

Both parties have agreed that following a capital increase to raise further funds for Leclanché SA, Bruellan has the right to convert the loan into shares of Leclanché.

Mitsubishi to demonstrate energy storage

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and SSE (formerly Scottish and Southern Energy) are planning a 2MW lithium-ion energy storage system project in the Orkney Islands. The project aims at demonstrating power supply stabilisation in the region, which currently enjoys a large but variable quantity of wind-produced renewable energy.

It will be conducted with the support of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation of Japan and should go live in early 2013.

US molten salt project gets green light

The US solar developer SolarReserve this weekconfirmed it has received the final Arizona State approval required to go ahead with its Crossroads Solar Energy Project. This aims to supply approximately 500,000MW annually of reliable, sustainable, zero-emission electricity to Arizona or California, enough to power up to 100,000 homes during peak electricity periods, says the company.

The project comprises 150MW of electrical generating capacity using concentrating solar power, plus 65MW of additional solar photovoltaic technology. Up to 10 hours of solar energy per day will be stored using the company’s molten salt power tower technology, says SolarReserve. Construction of the site, near Gila Bend, should begin late this year, or in early 2013.

Saft in new USD$98m deal with US military

Saft will be providing the US Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) with lithium-sulphur dioxide batteries for portable devices such as radios,reports New Energy Network. The DLA will then pass the units onto the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

The contract Saft has secured will be worth up to USD$98 million over five years and adds to the recent top-up of $1.3 million the company secured from BAE Systems to develop energy storage solutions for hybrid vehicles destined for the US Army.