The Notrees wind farm of Texas has now been equipped with what was called “the world’s largest energy storage system”. It is a 36 MW bank of batteries, which equivalent to the power consumption of 12,000 houses.
Duke Energy Renewables, a part of Duke Energy, is the company that owns the Notrees wind farm and chose to have Xtreme Energy, an Austin-based company equip this particular wind farm with the batteries because it is large and spacious (wind farms are always large and spacious, but, apparently, this one is particularly spacious).
The wind energy storage industry is in it’s infancy, and several years ago, there was almost no wind energy storage in use anywhere. The first few projects that store wind energy on a large scale are important proof-of-concept to prospective wind farm developers, power plant operators, the Department of Energy, and everyone else that is uncertain about the viability of wind energy storage.
This is a project that received $22 million of funding from the U.S Department of Energy (a matching grant), translating to a cost of $0.61 per watt of energy the system can provide.
Although energy storage systems, including this one, are very expensive, they do have to be tested, and the need for them is growing. Even traditional coal, natural gas, and nuclear power plants are not adjustable enough. Nuclear power plants are virtually nonadjustable, natural gas and coal plants take 3 hours to start, and cannot respond to sudden changes of electricity demand.
At night, when electricity demand drops, they still produce as much electricity as they did at daytime, and pass the cost of that surplus electricity, which goes to waste, onto consumers. Batteries like these help all of these power plants to store the surplus energy so that it can be used to meet increased electricity demand during peak hours (electricity demand often peaks in the afternoon, partly due to air conditioner usage).
Almost all power plants can benefit from energy storage, as they are not virtually uncontrollable (except hydroelectric power plants), and this battery is not only an important test, but it also helps to back up the electricity grid in the event of power shortages.
Source: Duke Energy