Dmitry Rybolovlev via Wikipedia, background photo by Michael Kappel via Flickr Creative Commons

As turmoil roils DC a Russian-linked battery company is embedding itself in the US energy sector

Bankrupt North Carolina battery plant Alevo, funded by Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, sold its assets and re-formed as Innolith, retaining many of Alevo’s leadership team and Russia ties — and it aims to help power the U.S. electrical grid.

As the House proceeds with the impeachment investigation and looking into possible Russian or foreign money funding U.S. politicians, another area that should be investigated is the potential national security risk posed by Russian or foreign investments in the U.S. energy sector.

Dmitry Rybolovlev

The shroud of mystery around whether or not Dmitry Rybolovlev continues to be a main investor in Innolith is a bit ironic, since he happens to be one of the most publicly visible Russian oligarchs — with his divorce, lawsuits and interactions with Trump splashed across the media.

Dmitry Rybolovlev via Wikipedia

Rybolovlev funded Alevo, but plans didn’t work out

Alevo battery plant, North Carolina, source: Greentech Media

Alevo goes away and Innolith emerges

Innolith, Source: CleanTechnica
  • Alevo Analytics participated in a 2017 Energy Storage Study for the state of Maryland (however a footnote in the study document says “Since the teleconference meeting with Alevo Analytics, the company filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which has ended communications with the company”).
  • Alevo was announced as recipient of $1.4 million from the U.S. Trade and Development Agency for a study on energy storage in Kenya, described as the first study of its kind in Africa. However, per reporting in McClatchy, the award may have been held up.
  • Alevo contributed to the nonprofit Interstate Renewable Energy Council on an April 2017 energy storage guide for state policy makers.

Alevo, Innolith and Customized Energy Solutions

A Forbes article described how Alevo had signed a joint operational agreement with Customized Energy Solutions in 2015 and vaguely described plans to sell ancillary services to PJM.

Alevo leadership now at Innolith

While it is not known if Dmitry Rybolovlev has continued on as a funder of Alevo to become a funder of Innolith, most members of the leadership team from Alevo are now running Innolith. In an interview with Greentech Media, Innolith CEO Buchin would not disclose the source of funding for Innolith, except to say “the company was supported by a strategic investor.” He did not say if Dmitry Rybolovlev was still involved as a funder of the new company. In a separate Bloomberg interview Buchin said “Our funding for Innolith comes from a strategic investment, backed by a family office that has multi-million dollars’ worth of assets under management.” This description is similar to Rigmora Holdings, Rybolovlev’s ‘family’ holding company, and whose CEO and Chief Investment Officer is now a director of Innolith.

  • Sergey Buchin — Chief Executive Officer, Innolith, previously Chief Operating Officer of Alevo. He was General Director CEO Intercomp and Managing Partner InvesTEK.
  • Vladislav Baumgertner — Board Director, Innolith, previously Chief Executive Officer of Alevo. He was CEO Global Ports (Russia) and from 2005–2010 and 2011–2013 was CEO of Rybolovlev’s company Uralkali. In 2013 Baumgertner was arrested in Minsk, Belarus in a scandal related to the sale of Uralkali, but the case was later dismissed.
  • Laurence Warpelin — Financial Director, Innolith, previously Group Chief Accountant at Alevo.
  • Stephane Rogazy — Director Supply Chain, Innolith, previously SVP Operations and SVP Supply Chain at Alevo.

New Innolith director is a Rybolovlev company CEO

One person who was not previously involved in Alevo, but is listed as one of Innolith’s five board directors is Anna Kolonchina. According to Kolonchina’s LinkedIn profile she is currently CEO & Chief Investment Officer at Rigmora Holdings Limited — Dmitry Rybolovlev’s family holding company. It is common for large investors to have representation on a company’s board of directors, which makes the appointment of Kolonchina an intriguing new link from Innolith to Rybolovlev.