Bridging the energy gap (Image: Xtreme Power)

Texas mega-battery aims to green up the grid

01 February 2013 by Hal Hodson

IN A remote corner of west Texas, in the shadow of a sprawling wind farm, one of the world’s largest batteries was switched on last week. Deep in oil country, the battery is at the vanguard of efforts to help renewable energy sources realise their potential and, ultimately, oust fossil fuels in the US.

Built for energy giant Duke Energy by local start-up Xtreme Power, the array is the biggest and fastest battery in the world. It can deliver 36 megawatts of wind power to the grid over a period of 15 minutes.

The battery’s job is to act as a buffer, smoothing out the supply of electricity from the 153 MW Notrees wind farm nearby. The intermittent nature of wind power means fossil fuel powered turbines often have to step in to match energy supply with demand. The battery at Notrees bridges the gap, says Haresh Kamath of the Electric Power Research Institute in Washington DC. “When you ramp power plants up and down they lose efficiency,” he says. “It used to be the best way to do it, but if we have storage like Notrees, we make wind plants more efficient.”

It also makes the entire grid more resilient to spikes in demand, because battery arrays can respond almost instantly, whereas natural gas power plants take about 15 minutes to boost their output.

Read more: Texas mega-battery aims to green up the grid – tech – 01 February 2013 – New Scientist.

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