Washington State Funds Giant Batteries for Renewable Energy

by Henry Kaplan | Jul 09, 2014 |

(An early battery designed by Alessandro Volta. Photo by GuidoBvia Wikimedia Commons.)

After being awarded a $3.2 million grant by the State of Washington last week, Avista Corp will be testing out utility scale batteries. The money comes from a $14 million pool of grant money for integrating renewable energy into Washington’s energy grid.

Since wind and solar power output rises and falls with the weather, keeping the supply of energy steady is one of the big challenges in using large-scale wind and solar power. On top of that, hours of peak energy generation don’t always line up with hours of peak energy use. That’s why the industry wants to find a truly successful form of utility-scale energy storage. We’ve seen energy stored in giant batteries, like Avista’s plan, as well as energy stored in the form of thermal heat and water pumped upstream. So far, many approaches have been promising but none have been entirely successful on a large scale.

Avista expects to have their battery by the end of the year, and they expect to begin full-scale testing in 18 months.

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