SoftBank exploring new energy storage technologies to drive green energy business

28, Nov. 2019

Manoj Kohli, executive chairman of SB Energy Corp., during an energy investment conference organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi on Nov. 26, 2019.
Manoj Kohli, executive chairman of SB Energy Corp., during an energy investment conference organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi on Nov. 26, 2019.

By Atul Ranjan

NEW DELHI, NNA- Renewable energy firm SB Energy Corp., a subsidiary of Japanese multinational conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp., is eying new energy storage technologies to provide 24-hour renewable power and boost demand for green energy, a top company official said.

Today’s lithium-ion energy storage systems are ineffective in tropical parts of the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, plus they have safety issues, SB Energy Executive Chairman Manoj Kohli said Tuesday at a conference in New Delhi organized by local industry lobby the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

India therefore needs alternative storage technologies to increase penetration of renewable energy, Kohli said. Softbank is supporting some of the four to five new technologies that are being “experimented across the world”, he added.

The conglomerate’s SoftBank Vision Fund got the process started with a $110 million investment in Swiss-based startup Energy Vault, an energy storage technology firm, this past August.

“Once commercialized, the technologies will definitely be up to the mark in terms of the requirements of weather conditions, safety as well as affordability,” he said.

The integration of energy storage systems with sources of renewable power is crucial to realizing alternative energy’s potential, Kohli added.

SB Energy, which is trying to expand use of renewable energy globally, was operating 36 solar power generation plants and a wind power generation plant in Japan as of March this year.

Outside Japan, Softbank Group operates Tsetsii Wind Farm, the first wind power project in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert, as well as a 350,000-kilowatt solar power generation plant in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh and a 400,000-kilowatt plant in the northern state of Rajasthan.

The group still invests in raw materials such as lithium to earn money from expected future demand from consumer electronics. Last year it announced an investment in the Canadian company Nemaska Lithium Inc., which is developing the Whabouchi lithium mine in Québec, one of the richest in the world.

“By investing in lithium resource development, SoftBank Group intends to contribute to the growth of the battery industry in view of increasing demand for smartphones and other communication devices and the anticipated Mobility Revolution to be ushered in by electric vehicles,” the company said in a statement while announcing the deal in April last year.