Xcel Energy is experimenting with gigantic batteries to store and provide power when it’s either too windy or too calm. Xcel’s battery unit is expected to be fully on line next spring, Minnesota Public Radio reports.
A metal container about the size of a double-decker bus contains 20 battery packs and can store enough electricity to supply 500 homes for seven hours. Xcel is using battery technology that is about 80 percent efficient. The company is also looking into whether it should invest in a compressed air storage facility which can hold ten times the electricity of the largest battery storage system.
American Electric Power has also been using battery storage technology for about two years. However, AEP’s Ali Nourai told Minnesota Public Radio that there were set backs, “components failed on us, and overheating, under heating, all kinds of issues which we had never experienced before. And if it doesn’t work right you may damage the battery, you may damage the grid, because you’re dealing with a lot of energy.”
Xcel recently agreed to disclose its financial risk associated with climate change to the S.E.C.
In October, Xcel announced it was cutting the rate it would pay for renewable energy credits associated with solar systems of 10 kilowatts or less to $1.50 from $2.50 per watt.
Earlier this year, the company announced plans to build the largest solar power plant in the U.S.