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Battery may prove way to store wind energy

Researchers are testing a new battery power storage system that may provide some long-term solutions to storing power from the electrical grid. 

The tests are being conducted at a wind farm near the Tri-Cities. Currently,  wind power—and hydropower—must be used as it is produced. 

“Electric in general is difficult to store, or to save for later; you have to use it,” said John Steigers of Energy Northwest, a public power consortium. “The whole system in the country is based on the premise that what is being produced has to be used.”

The new battery that is being tested is huge—we’re talking half the size of a railway shipping container. It utilizes modern Lithium ion technology. 

Steigers says the battery is being tested at several different locations. The idea is that it can store wind energy that is generated at times of the day when actual use by consumers is not all that high.

“It tends to show up at night, when the loads for the system are the lowest, and when it shows up you can store it, and then later in the day when air conditioners are on and people are working it, the electricity can be used at that time,” he said.

Steigers says the battery is expected to be able to store enough electricity to power 50 homes for a year. He says long-term plans for the batteries would be to site them where they are needed, at industrial areas or neighborhoods to power individual homes.