UE Technologies appoints co-founder of ESA as president and former US Saft sales VP joins vanadium flow firm

UniEnergy Technologies, the US Vanadium flow battery firm appointed Rick Winter, the chief operating officer in June as president with full P&L responsibility and accountability for daily operations of the company. Winter continues as COO.

Winter, a well known industry figure not least because of his role as a co-founder of the Electric Storage Association and his tenure as chairman of the body, has helped shape the industry’s embrace of energy storage.

He joined UET in 2013 and subsequently managed the launch of UET’s product lines, the Uni.System and the ReFlex, and guided the company from a standing start to 80MWh in deployments, orders, and awards.

“UET is now tripling its manufacturing and engineering floor space to meet growing demand and enable 100MW annual production at its current facility,” says the firm.

Winter has 28 years’ experience innovating and implementing grid storage technologies. He has been a driving force in the transition of the grid storage industry from its early stages, to the strategic imperative for grid flexibility and the stability it has today.

During this time, he helped build the US Electricity Storage Association from its inception in 1991, serving twice as chairman and as a board member for 18 years.

In 2011, he was awarded the Phil Symons award for his “instrumental role in the evolution of storage technologies in both the utility and battery manufacturing industries”.

With a focus on productization, Winter has hands-on experience evaluating grid impacts of distributed generation systems including batteries, flywheels, microturbines, photovoltaics and diesel generators.

Winter’s background ranges from managing the storage technologies programme at Pacific Gas & Electric, America’s largest investor-owned utility, to deploying remote area hybrid power systems in Australia’s Torres Strait.

He has led product development at five advanced battery companies, in the process creating the world’s first flow battery product by leveraging advanced zinc-bromide technology from Austria (the 100kW/100kWh PowerBlock), and leading development of iron-chromium batteries for cell towers in India.

Winter invented the single loop flow battery membrane in his garage (Patent number 8039161), going on to found Primus Power and raise $30 million in capital. He holds 17 US patents and numerous abroad with a further 10 US patents pending.

Winter led the innovation team that created the world’s first commercial flow battery product (the 100kW PowerBlock) while he was vice president of engineering at PowerCell.

At the end of June UET appointed Blake Frye, former vice president for sales for Saft America, as its senior vice president of global sales. Frye will be in charge of deployment and sales of UET’s vanadium flow energy storage systems.

“Frye’s broad industry experience and technical expertise makes him uniquely qualified to provide value to customers, end-users, and channel partners, as well as to advise on the advantages of flow batteries compared with other technologies,” says UET.

Frye started as a sales manager with Saft in 2001 becoming a vice president for sales and marketing in North America in 2004, a director of Saft Group in 2007 and finally a VP of sales for energy storage in 2010 where he led the creation and growth of its energy storage business.

“He closed multiple large-scale contracts with utilities, renewable developers, transit authorities, and the US Department of Defence, with projects located in California, Hawaii, the north-eastern US, Alaska, Arizona, Canada, Bolivia, Mexico, and the Caribbean basin,” says the firm.

Earlier in his 15-year career at Saft, Frye managed marketing, business development, and communications for two Saft international business units selling lithium and nickel metal hydride batteries with over $400 million in annual revenues.

Frye has extensive technical expertise from his six years at Energizer from 1995, where he was responsible for product development including novel technologies for new rechargeable battery products.

Frye holds three US patents, and his team at Saft was recognized by the Energy Storage Association in 2015 with the Brad Roberts Outstanding Industry Achievement Award.

“After many years of direct interactions with customers, it is clear the advanced vanadium flow batteries developed at UET and now deployed at megawatt-scale are an industry game-changer,” said Frye.

UET’s core technology is a so-called third generation vanadium flow battery, with a breakthrough electrolyte first developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) with support from the US Department Of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.

“Our vanadium flow energy storage systems partner well with solar energy because of the long-life of the batteries and their ability to facilitate the integration of increasing renewable resources into the grid,” says Frye. “By working together with a leading utility and national laboratories, we will develop metrics for evaluating renewable energy and storage integration and demonstrate the benefits of leading energy storage technology to the US’s grid modernization efforts.”