Bottling up a breeze
New Jersey company creates battery that can store wind power for use during peak hours.
Thu, May 20, 2010 at 01:49 PM
Ever lie awake at night listening to the wind and wondering why it never seems to blow as much during the daytime? Researchers from New Jersey's Grid Storage Technology do this all the time. It's in their best interest, after all. With most wind turbines producing energy at night, the low point of energy demands and prices, wind creates some pesky problems for utility companies.
The New York Times reports, however, that Grid Storage Technology might have found a solution in their new batteries. According to the story, the new batteries would store bulk amounts of energy and, "By charging up at hours when electricity is almost free and discharging the power when it is expensive ... the batteries would earn their owners a profit through arbitrage."
The story goes on to say that manufacturing costs of the batteries will have to go down before anyone sees real profits, but the concept of moving power from off-peak to peak periods is an interesting solution. This would go far to help strained transmission lines and, according to the story, make the wind "dispatchable."
Grid Storage Technologies batteries have other sustainable benefits, too. They are zinc-based instead of lithium, and take in "oxygen from air as part of the chemical reaction that gives off electricity," which means they don't rely on a second chemical in the battery. The company expects to have test units in place in North Carolina and Pennsylvania — units large enough to store eight months' worth of power for an average home.
The Times article indicates the battery is a "promising" development that could delivery electricity at competitive rates, provided the cost of production does indeed come down as volume increases.