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Leclanché reports 56% revenue increase for 2016 but Narada Power partnership on hold

Leclanché batteries in the field on Graciosa, a Portugese island. Image: Younicos.
Swiss battery manufacturer Leclanché has reported an increase in revenues for 2016 of 56% compared to the previous year, netting unaudited preliminary revenue of CHF28 million (US$27.66 million) for the calendar year.

CEO Anil Srivastava said the company had achieved “above-market growth” in revealing its financial results for the year ending 31 December 2016. Srivastava said the company is now “focused on project financing and securing new projects for 2018 and beyond”. The results appear to be broadly in line with the high expectations generated in the first six months of the year, when Leclanché said H1 2016 revenues were as much as 65% above 2015’s equivalent period.

The company revealed an order backlog of 85MWh to be delivered this year, but also stated that it does not expect to guide towards breakeven EBITA for production above 100MWh until 2018. Also holding the company back to some extent were delays to progress in its partnership with China’s Narada Power, which Energy-Storage.News reported back in November could lead to the construction of a 2.5GWh factory in China.

According to Leclanché, the Narada partnership is on hold due to Chinese capital controls and recently changed technical specifications in the local market. The company is however in negotiations with several Chinese companies to form strategic partnerships on technology licensing. The Swiss company is eyeing the booming Chinese EV market with particular interest.

Leclanché currently has 50MW/22MWh of utility-scale energy storage projects under construction in North America and recently won a 33MWh project contract through an unnamed German utility. It apparently also has a pipeline of “expected and awarded projects” of as much as 450MWh, the company said in a statement.     

A 53MWh project for Canada’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) successfully gained a construction loan through Leclanche’s holding company Maple Leaf for its first two sites which are near Toronto, totalling 27MW/12MWh in December. Similarly, battery storage infrastructure investor SGEM financed the 23MW/10MWh Marengo project, one of Leclanché’s own, in the Chicago area. That project will join PJM's frequency response market. Leclanché referred to both projects as prime examples of off-balance sheet project financing and improved capital efficiency.

UK staff let go but company reiterates commitment

Also today, it was revealed that Leclanché’s two-man UK office had been let go, although the company said it remained committed to the market. Our UK sister site Solar Power Portal reported that both Lawrie Wilson, UK country manager, and Bobbie Wright, UK account manager, have left Leclanché in recent weeks.

This fuelled speculation that the manufacturer was to exit the UK battery storage market, but Leclanché reiterated its commitment to the country in a statement to Solar Power Portal, confirming that the division would be run from the company’s headquarters in Switzerland in the interim.   

“We remain active in the UK, having been selected in 2016 by North Star Solar to supply its TiBox home energy storage system. We are also working with partners in the UK reviewing opportunities to interface grid services software platforms with advanced modular and scalable battery storage infrastructure,” a spokesperson told SPP.

In June last year it was revealed that Leclanché was one of two battery providers selected by North Star Solar to provide systems for a residential solar-plus-storage project involving up to 22,000 homes in Stanley, County Durham.

It said at the time that it was aiming to use the “unprecedented” scheme to deploy battery storage “at scale” in the UK.

Additional reporting by Liam Stoker.

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