Sharp to make solar power storage batteries: report

Japan's Sharp Corp will team up with Daiwa House Industry Co Ltd and Dai Nippon Printing Co Ltd to develop large lithium-ion batteries that can store solar energy for houses, the Nikkei business daily reported on Tuesday. The deal will help Sharp, the world's largest producer of solar cells, expand its solar power system business while enabling Japanese homebuilder Daiwa House add value to its homes with energy-saving technologies, the Nikkei said. Sharp plans to invest around 600 million yen ($5.56 million) in large lithium-ion battery developer Eliiy Power Co Ltd in March, the Nikkei said. Currently, Daiwa House and Dai Nippon Printing, provider of electrode materials used in lithium-ion batteries, each hold stakes worth about 600 million yen in Eliiy Power, a spokesman for Eliiy Power said. While existing household solar power systems can convert sunlight to energy, they cannot store power for later use. Homes thus rely on other forms of power on cloudy days or at night, a Daiwa House spokesman said. But with large lithium-ion batteries, with up to 40 times the storage capacity of existing smaller batteries used in mobile phones and laptop computers, homes can have power even when the sun is not out, the Eliiy Power spokesman said. Eliiy Power plans to build a factory to produce large lithium-ion batteries in the business year 2009/10, the Nikkei reported. A Sharp spokeswoman said the firm is looking into storage batteries for households, but nothing has been determined. Daiwa House and Dai Nippon Printing spokesmen declined to confirm the Nikkei report. The Eliiy Power spokesman said the company is considering bringing another partner into its lithium-ion venture, but did not provide details. Shares of Sharp rose 1.7 percent to 2,135 yen as of the morning close on Tuesday. Daiwa House shares climbed 1.5 percent to 1,121 yen, while shares of Dai Nippon Printing fell 0.6 percent to 1,699 yen. (Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Chris Gallagher)