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One Oil Major Is Taking Energy Storage Very Seriously

French oil giant Total (NYSE: TOT) may not be the first company you think of when renewable energy comes up, but it should be near the top of the list. The company owns a controlling stake in solar manufacturer SunPower (NASDAQ: SPWR) , battery company Saft, ant its list of renewable assets seems to grow everyday.

Saft is making some interesting moves, most recently partnering with some other power players in the energy business to research better battery technology. If successful, Total could emerge with a strong position in one of the biggest growth industries in energy .

The alliance pushing energy storage forward
To improve both existing lithium-ion batteries as well as advance solid-state technology, Saft is leading a new alliance of energy power players that currently includes Solvay (materials science), Manz (manufacturing equipment), and energy giant Siemens (NASDAQOTH: SIEGY) to develop advanced battery technology. Saft’s press release outlined the agreement this way:

Saft is building an Alliance with other European partners to launch an ambitious program of research, development and industrialization for new generations of batteries focusing on advanced high-density Li-ion and Solid-State technology. The program addresses all market segments, such as electro-mobility (EV, e-Bus, Railway, Marine, Aviation), energy storage (ESS) and specialty industries.

The release went on to point out that products developed will have “performance, cost and safety advantages” over traditional lithium-ion batteries in the market today. Given the rapidly falling cost of lithium-ion batteries, that could truly be a game changer for the energy industry.

A potentially disruptive alliance
Not just a major electrical component supplier, Siemens is also a major player in energy storage through its partnership with AES called Fluence . The company is developing and financing energy storage projects around the world and this technology could make those projects more profitable. If the Saft alliance is successful, Fluence could become a major source of demand.

What shouldn’t be overlooked is that solid-state batteries could be a great technology for energy storage and transportation applications . In other words, Saft could be going after Tesla ‘s bread and butter in electric vehicles. We don’t know whether new technologies will prove fruitful, but that investments are being made is notable to all involved.

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