Energy storage sector upbeat about renewables, micro-grid opportunities

Renewable energy is here, can ‘storage’ be far behind? This industry riff captures an emerging mega trend, one that is underscored by three recent announcements.

The first was that of the US renewable energy major, SunEdison, wanting to purchase 1,000 vanadium flow batteries from another US company called Imergy Power. A couple of months back, SunEdison had announced that it would jointly power 5,000 villages and small towns in India in collaboration with OMC Ltd, a company that has been in the mini grids business for some years. Now, SunEdison wants to use these batteries for the micro and mini grid systems that it would put up jointly with OMC Ltd.

Lithium-ion batteries

The second announcement came from Switzerland. It said that ABB and Samsung SDI had joined hands to produce lithium-ion batteries to promote micro grid solutions globally. Samsung would bring the batteries, ABB control systems, and together they would make micro grids a viable solution to bringing electricity to rural areas.

Embedded in these two announcements is the message that is increasingly becoming evident to those who deal with renewable energy. Without proper storage systems, the role of renewable energy can at best be marginal.

That is more so in solar powered micro and mini grids – where companies put up a solar power generation unit and cable-up un-electrified or poorly electrified villages and start supplying power. Electricity is mostly needed for basic lighting, mobile charging and fans. Solar panels generate power during the days and the power needs to be stored for the nights.

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