Gianello Gaggero
Battery Depot

Batteries for the Masses

Wed, 02/21/2018 - 13:10

The mass implementation of batteries in the energy sector would allow renewables to gain a much bigger share of the world’s electricity mix, while at the same time ensuring energy is available at any time, not only when the sun shines and the wind blows. But lifetime, cost and environmental impact are still key hurdles, says Gianello Gaggero, owner of Battery Depot, a large-scale battery supplier that is working to solve these issues. “Mexico’s market is accustomed to batteries that last on average two years,” he says. “Thanks to the technology we use in our manufacturing process, our batteries can last seven to eight years. As a result, our clients' investment and depreciation throughout the life cycle of our batteries is highly cost-effective.”

Gaggero adds that Battery Depot offers a threefold added value: top-tier technology, accessible prices for the Mexican market and top-notch quality products. “We assemble our Duravolt-owned brand in China for distribution in Mexico,” he says. With effective and targeted prices, Battery Depot allows Mexican households to access the battery market, and therefore increase the penetration of renewables in Mexico. The problem with market conditions is that battery manufacturers prefer to keep prices at a convenient level, Gaggero says. “The inherent business model of entrenched brands across the value chain makes it difficult for Mexican residential customers to buy batteries given their purchasing power. Duravolt is competing against expensive brands in the market by offering the same quality and materials they use, but at a more affordable price.”

Cost-effective technologies are not only for the residential sector, as Gaggero recognizes the need for an open mass market. “Battery Depot is also targeting the commercial and industrial segments. Our products range from button cells to industrial batteries. We also believe that targeting a smaller number of users that have high electric consumption is a sound business strategy, as it results in attractive economies of scale.” Battery Depot’s business model is inclusive; it looks to help those that are most in need, Gaggero continues. “We are seizing significant opportunities related to the Ministry of Energy’s Universal Electric Service Fund (FSUE) with the implementation of off-grid PV solutions applied to public-lighting systems.”

To maintain an attractive price point, Battery Depot has had to keep its manufacturing process in China. Nevertheless, Gaggero recognizes the advantages of bringing production lines to Mexico. The company is in talks with its Chinese partners to foster the Mexican industry, he says. “At Battery Depot we are always highlighting the advantages of manufacturing in Mexico, as Chinese labor together with indirect costs are becoming increasingly more expensive.” He also points to the need to foster a welcoming environment for Chinese companies in Mexico, as little is being done in this area compared to the number of companies from North America that are offered opportunities to manufacture in Mexico. “We know there is a lot of manufacturing activity by Canadian and US companies in Mexico, yet when it comes to Chinese manufacturing companies, not much effort is made at the government level to foster opportunities to work with them. Mexico’s NAFTA membership and wide array of commercial agreements with other countries make it a strategic launching pad for Chinese companies to access the rest of Latin America. Chinese battery manufacturers are increasingly attracted to the idea of installing manufacturing facilities in Mexico, and we will continue pushing to make this idea a reality for Battery Depot.”

Besides cost, another factor currently working against batteries as a support for clean technologies is the environmental impact because they are produced with toxic metals that could pose a danger to the surroundings. Gaggero says his company has taken this into consideration. “An added differentiator of our Duravolt batteries is a reduced environmental impact. Most batteries in Mexico’s market contain lead and liquid sulfuric acid, making any leak extremely harmful for the environment. Our batteries contain these harmful elements inside a fully sealed, sponge-like membrane that prevents any hazardous leakage.”