Renewable energy development company SunEdison announced on Mar. 25 that it had agreed to purchase up to 1,000 vanadium redox flow batteries totaling more than 100 MW of storage capacity from Imergy Power Systems to be used for community minigrid projects in India.

SunEdison, which has an equity stake in Imergy, in January received financing from the U.S. Export-Import Bank to support rural electrification initiatives in India. This support was part of the U.S.-India trade agreement announced between President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Jan. 25. SunEdison and Indian firm Omnigrid Micropower signed an agreement in January to develop

The batteries will be deployed specifically to store electricity generated by small community solar photovoltaic plants. SunEdison said it went with vanadium redox flow technology because of their low cost, durability, and low maintenance requirements, which makes them ideal for remote installations.

India has been struggling with bringing electricity to its huge population—approximately one-quarter of Indians lack access—and these small community projects are seen as one way of jump-starting the process more rapidly than would be possible through large power plant and transmission projects.

Modi was elected last year on a promise to speed Indian electrification and has openly pursued foreign investment as one means of making good on it. The inclusion of storage as part of the minigrids enables greater use of solar generation, which will help limit growth in the nation’s carbon emissions.

SunEdison, which bought energy storage company Solar Grid Storage last year, also said it would increase its stake in Imergy as part of the deal.

—Thomas W. Overton, JD is a POWER associate editor (@thomas_overton, @POWERmagazine).