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A123’s Grid-Scale Storage Business Lives On

Lithium-ion grid batteries, under new ownership
Jeff St. John: May 6, 2013

A123 Systems, the bankrupt lithium-ion battery maker bought by Chinese automotive manufacturing giant Wanxiang last year, has mostly been associated with electric vehicles. But a quarter of the company’s revenues last year came from the megawatt-sized grid energy storage systems it’s installed with partners like AES and utilities across the world.

Monday brings news that Wanxiang intends to keep that grid battery business alive, in the form of A123 Energy Solutions. The business unit will build both ALM 12V7 batteries for replacing lead-acid industrial backup power systems, as well as its megawatt-scale Grid Storage Solution containerized battery systems, which have already been deployed in excess of 100 megawatts in grid projects from Hawaii to Chile, as well as back in Massachusetts.

The grid division will be based in Westborough, Mass., with offices in St. Louis, Mo. and Suzhou, China, according to Monday’s release, which didn’t specify just how much money was being invested in the new endeavor. Attendees will be able to check out A123’s booth at the American Wind Energy Association’s Windpower 2013 conference this week in Chicago.

Nor did A123’s announcement say if the company had any new grid storage projects in the pipeline. To date, A123 has installed just over 100 megawatts of energy storage projects with partner AES Energy Storage, which made up 24 percent of A123’s 2012 revenues, and has significant projects with utilities including Maui Electric, Southern California Edison, Sempra Energy and NSTAR.


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