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Home >Industry >Energy >SunEdison buying Imergy batteries for microgrids in rural India

New York: SunEdison Inc., a US solar panel maker and power-plant developer, is buying 1,000 batteries from closely held Imergy Power Systems Inc. to build microgrids in rural India.

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 years.

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. Bloomberg

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