Store Power in Super Batteries
Mar 23, 2009 - Vince Beiser - Wired
|Photo: James Day
Electricity is the ultimate just-in-time commodity,
sent off to consumers as soon as it's generated. But
solar and wind installations produce power only when
the sun is shining or a breeze is blowing. If you
could bank that energy when it's abundant and release
it later as needed, you'd have a more reliable, more
environmentally sound power grid.
Obama's stimulus package includes $2 billion in grants
for battery development. For power grids, sodium-sulfur
technology is the best bet. It's more efficient and
power-dense than zinc-bromide or lead-acid, and in
Japan, where NaS batteries are made, enough have been
installed to power the equivalent of at least 155,000
homes. Later this year or next, American Electric
Power, a major utility serving 11 midwestern states,
will install 4 megawatts' worth of NaS cells in Presidio,
Texas. That's on top of the 6 megawatts of battery
power AEP installed in three other states last year.
"We wanted a real thing that really works," says Ali
Nourai, AEP's manager of distributed energy resources.
"We didn't want to send a technician out every other
day to fix some experimental system." Regulatory uncertainties
still abound, but utilities across the US plan to
bring sodium-sulfur systems online. Soon, more and
more cities will come with batteries included.
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