Using Batteries to Store Energy

Interesting story in today's New York Times on using batteries to store electricity:
The rapid growth of wind farms, whose output is hard to schedule reliably or even predict, has the nation's electricity providers scrambling to develop energy storage to ensure stability and improve profits.

The intermittent nature of renewable resources like wind is one of the challenges here in the Pacific Northwest, where wind development has grown at a fast clip.

According to Jeff King, senior resource analyst, cost-effective battery storage technologies could be hugely beneficial to wind, solar, and wave development. "Batteries could level the output of intermittent renewables, which would help integrate them into the power system," says King.

"And if batteries were installed at the generation plant site, the leveled output would improve transmission loading, reducing the cost of transmission to access remote renewables."

Other qualities that make batteries a potentially attractive option are their modular, small-scale nature, and siting flexibility. Their small size makes rapid technological improvement possible through production economies and the ability to deploy "just the right amount of storage"--not too much and not too little--at the power plant site.

The Council's power plan recommends exploring technologies like battery storage and calls on identifying research and development needs for the most promising options.