(Bloomberg) — SunEdison Inc., a U.S. solar panel maker and
power-plant developer, is buying 1,000 batteries from closely
held Imergy Power Systems Inc. to build microgrids in rural
Each battery will be able to provide one village with 10
hours of daily power, said Tim Derrick, general manager of
advanced solutions and energy storage for SunEdison.
SunEdison is seeking to develop 5,000 such systems by 2020
to store solar energy for 20 million people who otherwise
wouldn’t have electricity. The first 1,000 will be developed in
the next two to three years.
“This application with rural microgrids is a way to bring
solar and storage together and make that dispatchable, and
ultimately deliver 24-7 energy to villages that don’t have that
kind of power,” Derrick said Tuesday in a telephone interview.
Imergy’s batteries employ vanadium, a metallic chemical
element, as a key ingredient that it recycles from industrial
waste such as oilfield sludge. Unlike other batteries, they can
be recharged and discharged indefinitely and last at least 20
SunEdison this month purchased Solar Grid Storage LLC to
add battery technology to renewable-energy projects. Solar Grid,
which uses lithium-ion batteries in systems that can support as
much as 10 megawatts, has four projects in operation and is
building at least three more this year. Other companies
including SolarCity Corp. are developing microgrids that soon
may displace traditional utility companies as energy from
intermittent sources can be used throughout the day.
SunEdison, in addition to buying the battery systems, is
increasing its minority stake in Fremont, Califorina-based
Imergy. Financial terms for both transactions weren’t disclosed.
Vote of Confidence
The equity investment “reflects SunEdison’s broader view
that we’re still tech agnostic,” Derrick said. “We’re not
going to pursue anything more than a minority interest in
battery companies, but it’s a vote of confidence in a management
team that we think has tremendous potential.”
SunEdison expects to complete solar and wind projects with
2,100 to 2,300 megawatts of capacity in 2015. The Maryland
Heights, Missouri-based company estimates installations will
rise to 2,800 megawatts to 3,800 megawatts in 2016, increasing
to 3,800 megawatts to 4,000 megawatts in 2017.
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Carlos Caminada, Jim Silver