Tech guru says battery storage ‘truly disruptive’

ASX-listed battery maker RedFlow Limited has capped off a hugely successful year with the appointment to its board of high profile Australian tech innovator and investor, Simon Hackett.

Hackett – founder of Internode and a director of NBNco – has joined the RedFlow board as a non-executive director, having made a $2.2 million investment in the Brisbane-based company in May.

His new position was officially announced at the company’s Annual General Meeting on Friday, where CEO Stuart Smith reflected on a year which saw its signature zinc bromine flow batteries manufactured for commercial sale for the first time.

“Two years ago the company was in turmoil but a clear strategy was set …and we are focussed clearly on its implementation,” Smith said.

“The past year has seen the company turn the corner and regain its confidence in terms of what it has to offer and the opportunities available to it.”

A key deal behind this turnaround was secured in February, when RedFlow signed a manufacturing agreement with US giant Flextronics, making its ZBM battery the first of its kind, globally, to enter large scale production.

Simon Hackett
Simon Hackett

RedFlow’s ZBM batteries are considered to be ideal for partnering with renewabls – for storing and shifting intermittent renewable energy, as well as managing peak load on the grid and supporting off-grid power systems – due to their capability for daily deep charge and discharge.

At the AGM on Friday, Smith described the outsourcing of the battery’s manufacturing to Flextronics as a key highlight of 2014.

“Apart from lead acid and lithium batteries, there are no other new energy storage technologies that we are aware of which have their manufacturing performed by external contract manufacturers,” Smith said.

“It is a significant validation of where we are at with our battery.”

The appointment of Hackett probably offers further validation.

“RedFlow offers a truly disruptive technology that can contribute strongly to the renewable energy revolution,” Hackett said in a statement on Friday.

“After a long period of research and development work to create the ZBM solution, RedFlow is now in full commercial production of their battery systems. The time is right for RedFlow – and for the renewable energy sector. I’m excited to be a part of it,” he said.

According to RedFlow chairman, Howard Stack, Hackett’s appointment is a strategic one.

“Simon’s experience with developing and commercialising disruptive technologies with global applications, combined with his entrepreneurial skills, will be invaluable to RedFlow as we move into our commercialisation phase.”

Other 2014 highlights for the company might include a successful capital raising, a “master supply” agreement with global company Schneider Electric to collaborate and develop energy storage systems, and an EU supply agreement with BlueSky Energy, based in Austria. And last month, RedFlow appointed Probe Corporation as an initial non-exclusive systems integrator partner in South Africa.

Meanwhile, RedFlow’s performance on the stock market has prompted some to question whether it is the best cleantech investment currently on the ASX.

Despite taking a nearly 10 per cent tumble at the start of this month, RedFlow shares have jumped more than 150 per cent this year – a trend driven by the fact that the company “consistently hits milestones on time and budget,” according to Proactive Investors Australia.

The shares were expected to get another boost from the November 10 payment from the ATO of $1.89 million for the Research & Development Tax Incentive, bringing the company’s cash balance to an estimated $8 million.

At the AGM, Smith said that, beyond the ZBM, RedFlow’s the prototype large-scale battery storage product developed with the assistance of AusIndustry funding meant the company was ready to produce a high voltage MW commercial offering.

“We have two products and we have a pipeline of future developments,” Smith said. “We have partnered with system integrators and with key suppliers as well as new suppliers.

Whilst this will not make us a profitable company overnight it will ensure we take advantage of being the first flow battery with specific commercial applications to be in commercial production with a global contract manufacturer who can scale production with ease.”

By the time of the 2015 AGM, Smith said, he hoped to be able to report on one major achievement: “sales, sales and profitability.”

“In this regard, I confirm we are in discussions and trials with several integrators and end customers for both smaller systems containing between 2 and 6 batteries as well as containerised MW solutions but will only release information on these once they are completed and orders received due to commercial in confidence provisions,” he said.


One response to “Tech guru says battery storage ‘truly disruptive’”

  1. OnionMan77 Avatar

    “Simon Hackett’s Internode Death Ray – Free to a good home”

    Now that Simon has revealed his new weapon of power generation business plan disruption – Redflow, it may be of interest that he has a lightly used death ray, surplus to requirements on Gumtree.

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