Speculators and investors see the potential of batteries and energy storage in the automotive sector and Balqon( BLQN) has had the efficient electric vehicle market covered since its inception. But it’s easy to forget about the value of lithium battery storage for a host of other applications. Like a handful of other relatively small-sized energy companies (Maxwell Technologies [Nasdaq: MXWL] and Advanced Battery Technologies Inc. [NASDAQ: ABAT] to name just two), BLQN understands that electric vehicles are only a part of the story and a fraction of the market.
Balqon Corp (BLQN), trading at .50 with a market cap of $18.4 M, is a forerunner in the development of eco-friendly heavy-duty electric vehicles. However, the company has also been making inroads into the energy storage business with its unique lithium battery technology. Lithium batteries are fast becoming a leading source of energy storage as they can store solar and wind energy to power cars, homes, and even industrial-sized buildings. Estimates show that the lithium battery market is now valued at $11 billion per year and is expected to reach $43 billion by 2020, with global consumption of the compound doubling by that same year. Additionally, the demand for lithium increased at a compounded annual growth rate (“CAGR”) of 5.5 percent from 2000 to 2009 despite the 2008 economic downturn. Over the course of the last decade, the use of lithium in portable batteries has grown by over 20 percent per year. Balqon’s expansion of its interests in lithium battery technology, coupled with its vast experience as a leading developer of electric vehicles, places the company in a unique position to capitalize on the growing need for lithium batteries in the automotive industry as well as other renewable energy storage applications.
One of Balqon’s major moves into the lithium battery industry occurred on July 30th, when the company introduced a new series of large format lithium batteries called HIQAP™, made available in 12, 24, and 48 volt configurations and with lifecycles varying from 2,500 cycles to 5,000 cycles based on their depth of discharge. HIQAP™ features a 1000 ahr single monoblock battery configuration. This is a first in the industry, and the batteries are designed for large storage applications such as telecommunication towers, residential backup and commercial energy storage markets currently dominated by industrial lead acid batteries. The new HIQAP™ batteries priced competitively at $300 per kwhr has over 20% higher transfer efficiency than current lead acid batteries and employs Balqon’s proprietary Battery Management System (BMS). Additionally, Balqon CEO Balwinder Samra has stated that, “growing worldwide concern over lead contamination resulting from lead acid batteries can hamper sustainable growth of the solar industry. HIQAP* low cost, high efficiency, long life and zero maintenance can help long-term growth of the industry.”
Balqon’s lithium batteries also turned heads in the industry back in May, when a one Megawatt Hour storage system developed by the company was installed and activated to power the Bourns College of Engineering building at the University of California, Riverside. The installation was part of a $2 million two-year project awarded to the college’s Center for Environmental Research and Technology in a regional effort to make Riverside a more environmentally friendly community.
Balqon could not be expanding its lithium interests at a more crucial time, as recent months have seen an unprecedented amount of activity among the industry’s major lithium excavation and battery storage companies. In the past few weeks alone, both A123 Systems Inc. (AONE) and Ener1Inc (HEVVQ.PK), two of Balqon’s biggest competitors as the foremost leaders in battery storage technology, have stayed afloat by striking deals with foreign investors eager to dip their feet into the American energy storage market. Chinese auto supplier Wanxiang group has taken a controlling interest in A123, while Russian investor Boris Zingarevich purchased the majority of Ener1Inc’s shares.
As if greater evidence were needed that the time for lithium excavation and battery storage is now, industry giant Chemetall created an entire subsidiary company, Rockwood Lithium (or Rockwood Holdings, Inc.) to handle its lithium interests. Rockwood Holdings (ROC) recently reported that its second quarter net income more than doubled. In addition, Rockwood, already the world’s largest producer of lithium products, has just struck a deal in the past week to purchase another industry leader, Talison (TLH:TSX), the worldwide leader in lithium-ore production, for a reported $728 Million. Rockwood’s chairman and CEO commented on the deal: “This acquisition will enable us to better serve both our existing global customers as well as Talison’s current lithium concentrate customers in China and the rest of the world.”
According to John Gartner, director of clean technology market intelligence firm Pike Research, “Battery chemistries that prioritize energy capacity over power density can satisfy both the PHEV and EV battery segments, enabling vendors to offer products to multiple vendors for multiple models. Reducing the installed price of EV batteries to $523 per kilowatt hour in 2017 will be a critical step towards making PEVs cost-competitive with petroleum-powered vehicles.”
Lithium batteries enable industrial plants as well as commercial buildings to power themselves at a far cheaper rate. Data backup and various forms of telecommunication will also be made easier and more efficient. Another advantage to Balqon’s HIQAP™ lithium batteries is that they are built to support large daily loads and high energy transfer, enabling homeowners to offset peak usage rates and transition from the expense of fuel in generator-powered remote areas and second homes. These batteries also can provide backup power during weather and other emergency-related disasters, thereby fulfilling the desire to live as far off the grid as possible. Perhaps most attractive of all to homeowners is that Balqon’s HIQAP™ lithium battery packs provide a best-of-all-worlds combination of low cost, high efficiency, long life and zero maintenance.
And consider this. Every iPod, iPhone and Apple laptop carries a lithium ion battery – energy stores that have become small enough, efficient enough and last long enough to effectively usurp Nickel Metal Hydride batteries. As far as potential goes, the sky is the limit for lithium battery energy storage. Unlike fossil fuels, other renewable energy sources such as solar and wind generate an unpredictable amount of power at different times during the day. That is why companies are turning to high- energy density batteries that store the power generated during off-peak hours.
Perhaps Balqon’s CEO Samra said it best: “With an estimated life of over 10 years and high energy transfer efficiency, our competitively-priced to lead acid batteries provide users the capability to capture up to 25 percent more energy from their solar panels. Battery storage integration is definitely the next logical step in moving toward net-zero energy communities.”
Ultimately, the shift towards energy storage has helped EV companies like Balqon increase their revenues and added diversification to their current portfolio of electric vehicles and drive systems. For investors, this increasing diversified revenue is a positive sign that could justify higher price-earnings multiples.
For more information, please visit http://www.balqon.com/store.php. Balqon Corporation’s common stock trades on the OTC Bulletin Board under the symbol “BLQN.” Follow on Twitter @hiqapbattery or http://twitter.com/hiqapbattery or visit our Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/hiqap.