"The Midwest is a great [wind] resource and we are strategically placed to use that and reduce our carbon footprint."
David Biello - Scientific American
– Dec. 22, 2008
Winds of change? -- Ed.
Winter winds howl off the Dakota prairie through Minnesota, turning the 1,100 megawatts worth of wind turbines in Xcel Energy's system in that state. By 2020, the utility expects to more than triple that amount in a bid to avoid more polluting energy sources. But the wind doesn't always blow and, even worse, it often blows strongest when people aren't using much electricity, like late at night.
So Xcel Energy, Inc., has become one of the first utilities in the U.S. to install a giant battery system in an attempt to store some of that wind power for later. "Energy storage might help us get to the point where we can integrate wind better," says Frank Novachek, director of corporate planning for the Minneapolis-based utility with customers in Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, the Dakotas, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin. "The overall cost of electricity might be lower by using energy storage."
The energy storage in question—a series of sodium–sulfur batteries from Japan's NGK Insulators, Ltd.—can store roughly seven megawatt-hours of power, meaning the 20 batteries are capable of delivering roughly... [Read More]