The Winter Olympics will be brought to you by lithium-ion batteries.
The grid storage division of Ener1, the lithium-ion battery maker, has landed a contract with Russia's Federal Grid Company (FGC) to design and build storage systems around Sochi, the home of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Russia is the fourth-largest electricity market in the world.
Earlier this year, Ener1 split itself into three divisions: one concentrates on grid storage contracts, one does packs and the other seeks to put its batteries into cars. The grid group is also developing five 1-megawatt storage systems in Oregon. The car group has contracts with Think and Mazda.
Ener1 takes a modular approach to factory capacity. It is currently building a factory capable of churning out 15,000 battery packs a year. That factory will take the company to being cash flow positive. It will then build up to a 60,000 pack a year capacity and later to a 100,000 pack a year capacity.
--SunPower announced it has landed a contract to build a 6-megawatt solar installation at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. At Solar Power International, solar companies were atwitter about the policy changes and opportunities in the Rocky Mountain State. Construction will begin this month and the system -- laid out on 30 acres -- should be fully operational by 2011.
Of course, all of the usual SunPower comments apply. The company makes high-efficiency cells and modules, but as a result, they can be priced higher than the norm. Some see them as an acquisition target while other observers believe they will acquire other companies to keep ahead of Chinese competitors. SunPower tends to land a significant number of utility-scale and large commercial deals, but Sharp will rev up with the recent Recurrent deal. It recently revealed that it will come out with a concentrator to get around the looming efficiency wall.
Willie Makeit? Betty Wont? You decide.
--We also had a chat with Keith Ward, CEO of Luminus Devices, which makes large-format LED chips. The company will start to aim its products at vertical niches. Think LED lights for refineries or surgical rooms. Vertical markets aren't as large as the general illumination market, but these customers have been known to pay a premium for the right products.
Revenue is set to nearly triple this year, he added.