Shunfeng buys into US storage group

Emerging Chinese PV powerhouse Shunfeng PV International (SPI) will spend $25m for a 30% stake in Powin Energy, an Oregon-based specialist in energy storage.

SPI said Powin has patents and patent-pending positions in key areas of energy storage, including grid-scale and commercial storage systems, and electric vehicle (EV) charging.

SPI will make the investment via SF Suntech, the subsidiary formed when it acquired the rump of the former Chinese PV manufacturer.

The deal includes an option for SF Suntech to acquire another 30% of Powin within two years for a further $37.5m.

The Chinese group will also be entitled to appoint four of the seven directors on Powin’s board.

SPI told the Hong Kong stock exchange the deal will give it an interest in several advanced storage technologies.

These include Powin’s lithium-ion battery system for large-scale applications, which it claimed “will generate high economic value and profit growth to the group”.

The Oregon company has also developed fast-charging devices for EVs, with charging in less than 10 minutes without the need for installation of three-phase power supplies.

SPI emerged from nowhere in 2013 to become one of the most ambitious operators in the global solar industry.

It bought Wuxi Suntech – the main Chinese manufacturing unit of the fallen PV module giant – and wants to develop 4GW of solar in China by the end of this year.