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Ener1 Hits the Grid

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The power you get from your home outlet may soon come from Ener1 (Nasdaq: HEV  ) battery packs, in Russia at least. In Ener1's earnings announcement, the company touted a $40 million contract with the Federal Grid Co., the Russian utility operator. Packs will be used for a bulk energy storage program, and as welcome news to shareholders, most of the revenue will be recognized in the first half of 2011.

Grid storage is the less talked about, but equally exciting, opportunity for Ener1 and A123 Systems (Nasdaq: AONE  ) . This move for Ener1 gives not only some visibility to investors, but is a sign that the company is diversifying production beyond Th!nk electric cars that currently dominate sales.

Companywide sales were $17.3 million, up 112.7% year over year and 7.5% sequentially. Net loss widened to $26.9 million or $0.18 per share. We still aren't seeing great financial results, but as sales increase, capacity will be utilized more efficiently, and we'll slowly see losses fade.

Ener1 saw an uptick in heavy-duty demand, similar to what we saw at Valence Technology (Nasdaq: VLNC  ) in the third quarter. But the real excitement starts in 2011 when grid storage demand picks up, Th!nk expands capacity, and Volvo starts production.

The company anticipates being EBITDA break-even by the end of 2011, at least giving us a benchmark by which to evaluate the company. Looking further down the road, Ener1 sees revenues between $600 million and $800 million in 2013. This wouldn't be dependent on the electric vehicles grabbing headlines but rather heavy-duty buses and grid energy storage. While Tesla Motors (Nasdaq: TSLA  ) continues to make progress, battery makers are increasingly focusing their attention on more commercial buyers who operate in defined areas and don't have the deviation of a retail car buyer.

GE (NYSE: GE  ) supported this thesis this week when it announced it would purchase "tens of thousands" of electric cars. This purchase will probably be biased toward A123 Systems where GE is a shareholder, but the Th!nk vehicle might be on GE's list as well. At any rate, it's a vote of confidence for the industry.

The third quarter may not have been a headline popper, but I was happy to hear the heavy lifting for shareholders may be over. I've been critical of constant equity offerings diluting Ener1's shareholders, but with $34 million in cash on hand, management is confident the company would be able to sustain itself going forward.

The foundation has been laid. Now it's time to execute.

Interested in reading more about Ener1? Click here to add it to My Watchlist to find all of our Foolish analysis on this stock.

Lithium, ions, and more:

Fool contributor Travis Hoium does not have a position in any company mentioned. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.

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