Exclusive: SunEdison purchases U.S. energy storage firm in fast-growing market

Wed Mar 4, 2015 9:51pm EST
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By Nichola Groom

(Reuters) - U.S. solar project developer SunEdison Inc SUNE.N is expanding into the fast-growing market for grid energy storage with the acquisition of a startup that pairs big batteries with solar installations.

SunEdison said its purchase of Solar Grid Storage LLC, to be announced on Thursday, will allow it to begin building a storage plan across the country, Tom Leyden, SunEdison's vice president of energy storage deployment, told Reuters on Wednesday.

"My mandate now at SunEdison is storage deployment, and that means nationwide," said Leyden, who was previously chief executive of Solar Grid Storage.

Missouri-based SunEdison, which had 2014 sales of $2.5 billion, did not disclose terms of the deal closed in January.

The deal with Solar Grid Storage is the first pairing of a solar generator with a storage firm since California Governor Jerry Brown called in January for an increase in the state's renewable energy goal to 50 percent by 2030 from 30 percent by 2020.

The transaction, which complements SunEdison's recent $2.4 billion deal to buy wind energy company First Wind, will also put SunEdison's financial heft into a nascent industry that is critical to supporting increasing amounts of wind and solar energy on the nation's power grids, Leyden said.

Storage systems such as batteries can absorb excess solar and wind power when there is more electricity than demand, and can likewise deploy power to the grid when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing.

Though valued at just $200 million in 2012, the energy storage industry is expected to grow to $19 billion by 2017 due to government mandates for renewable energy, according to research firm IHS CERA.   Continued...