Energy Storage: Essential But Elusive Solution For Alternative Fuels
A123 Systems , another key player in vehicle batteries, is developing 20 megawatts of storage for a power grid project in Chile being handled by AES Corp. . A123 said in February its shipments so far make it the largest producer of lithium ion batteries for power-grid services. Bank of America/Merrill Lynch on May 17 boosted its rating on the stock to buy from neutral.
Lew, the Needham analyst, says one of his top picks in energy storage isPolypore International ,even though the stock isn’t a pure play in the space.
Polypore’s Celgard unit makes ion-exchange membranes used in lithium batteries. The separators are used not only for electric-drive vehicle batteries, but also for systems being developed for grid storage connected with renewable energy, such as wind farms.
“They are very well situated on this energy storage space, just because of their market position,” Lew says.
Celgard is in the process of more than doubling its lithium-ion battery separator capacity at its facilities in Charlotte and Concord, N.C. President Barack Obama visited the area in April to tout the $250-million expansions, funded in part by stimulus funds.
Polypore President and CEO Robert Toth, speaking at an investor conference May 17, said he sees longer-term emerging opportunities in energy storage systems as big battery players find ways to repackage batteries into applications for grid storage.
“We’re just on the very front end of that,” he said.