Big Moves In The Energy Storage Industry

SunEdison, the world’s largest renewable energy developer, has been making fast and bold moves in the energy storage industry.

In the first quarter of this year alone, it has acquired distributed solar energy storage systems provider Solar Grid Storage LLC, and purchased 1000  vanadium redox batteries (supplying up to 100MWh) from Imergy Power Systems, a leader in advanced energy storage solutions. These storage systems, paired with SunEdison’s solar panels, will be used to supply electricity to villages in rural India.

The move into energy storage comes after the company acquired First Wind, expanding its solar and wind technology capabilities. SunEdison will not be the only big solar company entering the storage business, as every major solar player appears to have storage partnerships in the pipeline. Last December, SunPower and Sunverge announced the formation of an alliance to release solar-battery systems commercially this year.

While energy storage projects appear to be more uncertain investments than solar projects now, the industry is expected to grow from $200 million in 2012 to almost $19 billion in 2017, according to research firm IHS CERA.

Tim Derrick, General Manager of SunEdison Advanced Solutions, believes this move will “position [them] as a leader in the rapidly growing energy storage market”. He will be a speaker at the Energy Storage World Forum in Rome, Italy in April 2015.

With the purchase of the vanadium batteries, SunEdison will be partnering with Omnigrid Micropower Company (OMC) in India to provide rural electrification and will transfer microgrid operations to the local population in 5 years.

OMC and SunEdison are supplying energy systems to Indian telecom towers, which in turn provide excess power to surrounding villages. The collaboration with telecom towers allows the companies to bank the project using a hybrid power-purchase agreement, an important component of the project as villagers often have little or no credit.

This issue of creating a viable business model, along with how local industries can be engaged in rural microgrids, will be covered by Anil Raj, CEO of OMC, India at the Residential Energy Storage Forum, part of the Energy Storage World Forum.

Tesla Motors caused another storm last week that had Tesla’s shares spiking when CEO Elon Musk announced via Twitter a “major new Tesla product line..that is not a car” scheduled for release on April 30. Many industry watchers and experts believe that this signals the launch of its stationary energy storage solutions that will highly likely be made from Li-ion batteries from its Gigafactory, a battery plant the automaker is constructing in Nevada.

In other news, Total, France’s multinational oil-and-gas company is investing an increasing amount of capital into startups that have developed stationary energy storage solutions. For example, it has invested in behind-the-meter battery start-up Stem, which is based in California.

This is particularly important in California, where the state’s 3 major investor-owned utilities are under government mandates to supply 1.3 GW of energy storage by the end of the decade.

Under this mandate, Southern California Edison made a huge storage buy last year. Although it was only required to buy 50 MW of storage, the utility decided to buy 250 MW instead, to ensure grid reliability after the retirements of the controversial San Onofre nuclear facility and a few older gas plants.

With strong backing from the Californian market, the overall US energy storage market is expected to triple to 220MW this year. Established players like AES Energy Storage, which has a portfolio of 200MW of grid battery projects and Alevo, which has $1 billion in investor backing to procure more storage projects, could be fierce competitors to the SunEdison-Solar Grid Storage combo.


Representatives from SunEdison and OMC, India will be speaking at the Residential Energy Storage Forum and other critical agenda items at the Energy Storage World Forum in Rome, Italy, from April 27 to 30. Find out more at Energy Storage World Forum

If you want to know more about this and other topics directly from end users of energy storage technologies join us at one of these annual events: The Energy Storage World Forum (Grid Scale Applications), or The Residential Energy Storage Forum, or one of our Training Courses.


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