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Energy Storage Company Investing

Coda is Back

Written by Justin Williams
Posted August 27, 2013 at 8:31PM

Energy storage is big business nowadays. Companies are popping up all over the map – all you have to do is take a quick look around and see that everyone has some sort of interest in this stuff.

Defined, energy storage is the retention of energy to be used to perform a useful operation at a later time.

coda energyEasy enough, right? Sure, but it has yet to materialize in any large-scale way. But that could all change as power shifts towards wind and solar.

The global energy storage market is set to grow nine-fold by the year 2017, according to, to become a $10.4 billion industry.

And its ancillary services – all the required maintenance and transmission efforts needed to maintain and transmit energy – will become a $3.8 billion market by 2023.

And that’s why the market is becoming saturated with competition. Aside from renewable energy sources, the entire electrical grid is being redesigned for modern use. It’s an exciting time in energy!

Energy storage is much more than just a battery these days. Thermal management systems are used in accordance with power source controllers to use battery life. These energy storage systems are becoming increasingly popular for utility and other companies to store energy effectively and more efficiently.

New Beginnings

Have you ever heard of Coda Energy? Maybe Coda Holdings rings a bell? The Los Angeles-based startup was originally an electric vehicle (EV) company. It raised a bunch of capital for its vehicles, manufactured in China, and then proceeded to sell less than 100 units before filing for bankruptcy in May.

It had a rash of problems: nobody liked Coda's product, for starters, management was said to be unmanageable, and overzealous investors put Coda Holdings right in the tank.

It’s kind of ironic because one of the biggest names to go bust in the auto manufacturing industry is now trying its hand at energy storage. And just like Coda Holdings, Coda Energy is trying to break into a market that has yet to show any large-scale success.

But here it is. It will be a silver-level sponsor of the Energy Storage North America Expo and Conference in California this coming September. It will be the company’s first public appearance since Coda Holdings was dissolved and its energy storage assets were purchased for $25 million by a consortium of investors.

Fortress Investment Group (NYSE: FIG) leads that group of investors. The New York-based investment firm acquired all of Coda Holdings' core technology, engineering, and energy storage assets.

The reorganization in a “Section 363” sale was created on June 21 at the close of Coda Holdings' bankruptcy proceedings.

The newly formed Coda Energy also acquired all contracts and partnerships that were established. This gives the company a lengthy leg up on where its EV business failed.

The company’s new lithium-ion battery-based energy storage business is already being used in a San Diego apartment complex, reducing peak electricity consumption and utilizing solar power. And in San Francisco, two InterContinental hotels use the same unit, called the CODA ESS.

From the Ashes

Maybe energy storage was Coda’s true calling all along; it just had to endure the punishment and brutality of the auto industry, and maybe it will be better for it. Time will tell.

But at least Coda Energy isn’t off to the same rocky start. It's building energy storage solutions that support a smarter, cleaner, and more reliable grid system.

Ed Solar and Pete Nortman will co-manage the company and place immediate focus on current contracts and building strong relationships.

Solar is the former head of Coda Holdings’ energy storage systems division and has worked for several energy-sector companies.

Nortman led the technology engineering team at Coda Holdings. He also co-founded EnergyCS, a battery developer acquired by Coda Holdings in 2011.

There are remnants of Coda Holdings sprinkled throughout the new company. Chinese battery maker Tianjin Lishin is still one of Coda Energy’s main suppliers, but Coda is also seeking out other suppliers. The company knows that different battery cells require different applications. It knows it can’t make the same mistakes twice.

The company’s battery will be involved in grid interconnection, and it will partner with network management and electronic and technology firms to drive the battery towards integration and fulfilling storage needs for the future.

These systems will be optimized for use by utility, community, and residential applications alike, and providing those same benefits to commercial and industrial end users.

The Industry

Maybe Coda can prove that its failure in the auto industry wasn’t all for naught. If it can learn from its mistakes and provide a good, solid product this time, Coda Energy could come out on top.

The grid storage industry is going to be a tough business to crack, but it looks like Coda Energy is confident this time around.

But the direct competition is fierce: BYD, Mitsubishi (NYSE: MTU), Panasonic (OTC: PCRFY), Samsung (KRX: 005930), LG Chem (KRX: 051910), Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI), Saft (EPA: SAFT) and many, many more are all diligently working on energy storage in some facet.

The proof is in the power.


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