Redflow eyes the long game, after “disappointing” Q4 battery sales

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Australian zinc-bromine flow battery maker points to China expansion and successful capital raising as reasons for optimism after big drop in quarterly revenue.

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Australian zinc-bromine flow battery maker Redflow has pointed to its expansion into the China market, and successful recent capital raising, as reasons for optimism after a “disappointing” quarterly revenue result for the company.

In a report published on Wednesday, the ASX-listed Redflow recorded cash receipts of just $A74,000 for the final quarter of FY18/19, compared to $296,000 in the previous quarter.

The drop in revenue was attributed to to end-customer delays, which in turn resulted in a slowdown in delivery of batteries.

But in a note accompanying the report, Redflow CEO and managing director Tim Harris said that while “disappointed” in the revenue results, the company remained optimistic about long-term opportunities to deploy its zinc-bromine flow battery technology.

“We have made significant progress on our commercialisation strategy in key markets over the quarter and the successful $8.4 million capital raising supports our growth plans,” Harris said.

In particular, the company pointed to its May expansion into the China market, with a contract to supply 100kWh of its ZBM2 zinc bromine flow batteries for a solar and electric vehicle smart grid project.

That project, sponsored by the China National Energy Bureau and managed by fellow batter maker ZbestPower, will incorporate Redflow’s batteries in a 1MWh energy storage system that will be paired with 66kW of solar, to power a carport with 18 EV fast charging points.

“Strategically, we see substantial opportunities to grow in China over the medium term, which is a key growth market for Redflow,” Harris said.

“In addition, the partnerships signed with Soul Energy and Mobax South Africa will allow us to scale our solutions in large markets where there are growing needs for storage solutions that deliver demonstrated performance and cost savings, compared to existing diesel and lead-acid powered solutions.”

On the recent fund raising round, Redflow said its success had reflected strong shareholder support for the company, which was in turn reflective of the progress made on its growth and commercialisation strategies.

“We have made significant progress on our commercialisation strategy in key markets over the quarter and the successful $8.4 million capital raising supports our growth plans,” Harris said.

“Some projects are progressing slower than we would like due to end customer delays, but we remain confident that we are well placed as these projects progress.

“We have received positive feedback regarding our recent deployments with Optus in the Daintree forest and the two childcare centres in Melbourne with the Knox City Council,” he added.

“Our South Africa mobile tower deployment with Moropa is steadily progressing as new sites are made available.”

Redflow has not had an altogether easy run at commercialising its promising energy storage technology, having being forced to make a major strategic shift in 2017 after failing to compete with lithium-based battery products in the mass consumer market.

This change of tack included moving its manufacturing base away from Mexico and to Thailand, and a shift in its major market away from residential and small commercial to the industrial, off-grid and telecommunications market.

The shift in market focus allowed Redflow to capitalise on the competitive advantages of its zinc-bromine flow batteries, including their ability to operate in high ambient temperatures and on a daily 100 per cent Depth of Discharge usage cycle without degrading storage capacity or lifetime.

*This article has been corrected to reflect that the result was for Q4 2018/19

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