Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Some Outfit Calling Itself "General Electric" Thinks It Can Do Batteries As Well As Tesla (GE; TSLA)

As I said in May's "HBR: "Tesla’s Not as Disruptive as You Might Think" (TSLA)":
I'll tell you what's not disruptive, it's Tesla's new battery, that's what.
There's a reason you haven't seen us gushing, the thing is just so...pedestrian.
More next week, for now, the Harvard Business Review where they don't use the "I'll tell you what...that's what" locution...
Because progress on battery technology has been so slow the chief differentiators among producers is manufacturing efficiency. That's something GE can do.
Even if Immelt is a loser who damn near destroyed the company.

From Reuters:
General Electric Co wants to be a "sizable" player in the market for systems that store energy to manage power volatility, a sector the company expects to quadruple to $6 billion by 2020, the head of GE's energy storage business told Reuters. 
Demand for industrial battery systems is being driven by increasing reliance on intermittent energy sources such as wind and solar power and the potential to add energy to the grid quickly when power needs spike.
This need has attracted a wide range of companies, including Elon Musk's Tesla Motors Inc, which said in April it plans to package batteries for use for utilities as well as homes and businesses.

"We believe in the space and its ability to grow," Jeff Wyatt, GE's general manager for energy storage, said in a recent interview. "We think we can be a sizable player within it, and that’s really what we’re intending to do."
GE over the past year has overhauled its approach to the energy storage market, as it saw weaker demand for the battery it developed.

Now Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE is repositioning itself as a one-stop shop for power producers seeking to install energy storage systems, offering inverters, control systems, software as well as financing options. 
Earlier this year, it scaled back production of its own Durathon industrial batteries, reducing its manufacturing workforce from 200 to 50 at the Schenectady, New York plant where the battery is made. The company is focused on improving Durathon's longevity, including managing its chemical degradation.

As part of its new energy storage package, GE is offering customers the option to install lithium-ion batteries made by other companies.

Despite the allure of battery systems, experts say their expense is a major factor preventing power operators from using them more broadly.

American Electric Power Inc has not invested in a significant energy storage installation since 2010, because it is unclear whether the benefits outweigh the costs, said Tom Weaver, AEP's distribution planning manager. 
"Long term, energy storage is the answer to a lot of issues that need an answer, but the cost has to come down," said Weaver.

Since April, GE has struck two deals to supply energy storage projects with lithium ion batteries in California and Ontario, Canada, and Wyatt said the company intends to announce similar agreements this year. 
Wyatt is relaunching GE's storage business in a market that is highly-fragmented, with as many as 20 significant players vying for deals, including large energy rivals such as Siemens AG, ABB Ltd and AES Corp, according to Cosmin Laslau, senior analyst with Lux Research.

There are also as many as 10 major battery cell manufacturers not to mention the many startups chasing energy storage business, Laslau said.

"By no means is GE the only supplier to the industry at this scale," Laslau said. "But their strategy is much better than it used to be."

GE would consider acquisitions to propel its new strategy, Wyatt said, but GE is well-positioned on its own as it can utilize its established relationships in the energy industry....MORE
See also:
Gates, Pritzkers vs. Musk: "The $5 Billion Race to Build a Better Battery" (TSLA)
Checking In On The Gigafactory: Pacific Crest's Downgrade Of Tesla (TSLA)
"Quest to Mine Seawater for Lithium Advances" (TSLA)
"Boston-Power Aims to Rival Tesla With Gigawatt Battery Factories" (TSLA)

And a couple dozen others, use the 'Search Blog' box if interested.

This Sunday Reuters story was not well received by Tesla shareholders although truth be told the market crash in China probably had as much to do with Tesla's decline yesterday, anyhoo the stock has recovered $9.60 today, $262.61 last:
Chart forTesla Motors, Inc. (TSLA)