New Investments In Energy Storage Technology Causes A Stir

October 30th, 2013
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There's a big stir in the energy storage sector lately following noted investors Bill Gates' and Vinod Khosla's investments in Varentec, a privately held company that creates power control solutions to connect renewable energy creation and storage. The company's Edge of Network Grid Optimization (ENGO) solution works to leverage the energy grid to deliver energy savings and demand management by linking renewable energy with energy storage. The days of renewable energy becoming more feasible are here, since energy through solar and wind can now be stored and managed in a variety of different ways from compressed air and flywheels to batteries of all types.

Follow up:

Author Giles Parkinson explains how this could affect the current energy model in an article on Australian cleantech site RenewEconomy. He says,

"[Energy storage] may even mean the end to the domination of centralised utilities, as storage will allow the industry to split into centralised backup (based around the old rate-of-return regulated utilities model) and much smaller 'localised' utilities that harness distributed generation such as solar and storage."

By balancing supply and accessibility via storage, energy storage for solar and other renewables make the technology not just cost-efficient (as it already is in many markets) but also more feasible for end users.

Companies operating in the energy storage sector may be on the verge of an upswing, if they're not already there. These small cap companies are attracting major investors for small business, which could help the industry as a whole grow much more quickly, through more widespread adoption of energy storage technologies. Here's a short list of small cap companies operating in the renewable energy storage field: Dundee Corporation, (TSE:DC.A), based in Toronto, ON, recently acquired the American Vanadium Corp, which mines and creates products from vanadium, a material used in many renewable energy storage batteries. The company's primary exploration property is the Gibellini Property in Eureka County, Nevada, where they own 100% of 376 claims. The company creates Vanadium Flow Batteries (VFB) to store extra energy created through renewables like solar and wind. The energy is then drained from the battery when needed. DC.A closed October 11th at $19.35, up $0.09, with a market cap of $1.05 billion. Their 52-week trading range is $17.64 - $37.88.

New Castle, PA-based Axion Power International Inc* (OTC:AXPW) doesn't just create advanced batteries for hybrid vehicles, locomotives and heavy trucks. They also manufacture the PowerCube, a mobile energy storage unit that can deliver up to 1 MW of power for 30 minutes or 100 KW of power for 10 hours. The PowerCube uses Axion's PbC batteries, which use activated carbon for the negative electrode, which gives the batteries a longer lifecycle. AXPW closed October 14th at $0.115, down $0.02, with a market cap of $16.29 million. Their 52-week trading range is $0.10 - $0.38.

Maxwell Technologies Inc (Nasdaq:MXWL), based in San Diego, CA, creates ultracapacitors specifically for wind turbines. These ultracapacitors help to optimize energy created from wind turbines. While their primary business involves providing ultracapacitors for electric buses in China, recent news that the Chinese government's subsidy program may be shifting to smaller subsidies could harm future prospects in this market. MXWL closed October 14th at $8.41, down $0.09, with a market cap of $248.09 million. Their 52-week trading range is $4.90 - $11.08. Although renewable energy storage has long been derided as a technology that won't be tenable for several years, many companies have already developed solutions for energy storage. The future of energy storage could be here sooner than anticipated - and with it, a decreasing reliance on "traditional" grid technologies. New technology investment from some pretty big names could give the industry a push to continue developing novel new products for energy storage.

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