Giant Batteries Now Can Stabilize and Store Grid Wind Power

We have long been seeking some way of storing the electricity from Wind Power. These Giant Batteries, may be an answer, and could take care of "Peak Power" and fluctuating wind issues. We at Wind-Inc., believe that this is significant.

Giant Battery can power 500 homes for 7 hours

We compliment the innovative companies that have initiated this, especially American Electric Power, one of the world's largest utility companies.

Utility Xcel Energy reports that a huge battery has worked effectively in smoothing out variable wind power, signaling how pockets of energy storage can help create a cleaner grid.

In 2008, Xcel started testing a 1-megawatt battery connected to an 11-megawatt Minnesota wind farm, the first direct wind-energy-storage project in the U.S. The sulfur-sodium batteries from NGK Insulators of Japan are able store 7.2 megawatt-hours of electricity and, when fully charged, are able to power 500 homes for more than seven hours, according to Xcel. They weigh about 80 tons and are about the size of two semi trailers.


The photo shows a sodium-sulfur battery installed on the grid in Charleston, W.Va., by utility American Electric Power.

The preliminary findings, released Tuesday, show that the technology can compensate for the variability of wind and ensure a steady balance between supply and demand, a task typically covered by natural gas plants.The utility also used the batteries to store wind power during off-peak times and deliver it to the grid during peak times. Often, wind farms produce excess electricity at night because there isn't sufficient demand and the energy goes unused.

"We have proved that this technology can perform the functions of storage that we were looking for to help us manage the variability of wind energy on our operating system," said Frank Novachek, Xcel Energy's director of corporate planning, said in a statement.

But the batteries are expensive, costing $4 million, he told the Pioneer Press. Grid storage is seeing a surge in interest among utilities. 


Xcel is planning to test a similar storage system with a large solar array near the Denver airport in Colorado. Energy storage attached to solar needs to be able to delivery bursts of electricity quickly, Novachek said.

"The (solar) application is different because solar output can drop drastically," Novachek told Finance & Commerce. "We've observed a solar output drop from 100 percent to 20 percent within one minute."

As part of the stimulus plan, the Department of Energy is partially funding a number of energy storage projects.

Also, the DOE last week announced that it will provide a $117 million loan guarantee to the Kahuku Wind Power project in Hawaii. The system will combine 12 2.5-megawatt turbines from Clipper Windpower and 30 megawatts of battery storage from Xtreme Power. On Monday, the DOE said that it approved a $17 million loan guarantee for installation of a 20-megawatt battery storage system from A123 Systems, which will be attached to the grid in New York. The storage will provide grid frequency regulation and allow the utility to use more solar and wind on the grid.

Martin LaMonicaFull ProfileE-mail Martin LaMonicaMartin LaMonica is a senior writer for CNET's Green Tech blog. He started at CNET News in 2002, covering IT and Web development. Before that, he was executive editor at IT publication InfoWorld.

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