09 July 2008

A Home Battery Backup System in Four Trailers

The two one-megawatt units--each housed in a semi-trailer--can store up to 15 minutes worth of electricity, or 250 kilowatt-hours each. (The average U.S. home consumes 920 kilowatt-hours per month.)
The battery banks pictured above are lithium titanate batteries inside a semi-trailer. As pictured, the bank would hold 250 kilowatt hours, or slightly more than one fourth of an average US home monthly energy consumption. For a full month's electrical backup, an average US home would require almost four semi-trailer's full of lithium titanate batteries.

These shiny babies are not for home backup, however. They are meant for utility scale power backup tie-in to the power grid.
The two-megawatt battery system was installed and operated at a substation owned by Indianapolis Power & Light (IPL), an AES company. The system contained two one-megawatt battery storage units each consisting of one Altairnano 250 kilowatt-hour lithium titanate battery stack, AC-to-DC power conversion system, HVAC units, a control system and transformers to connect to the IPL grid. During the validation exercise the capacity of each unit was tested by repeatedly charging and discharging at one megawatt for 15 minutes. In a second test, two megawatts of power from each of the units were used to show the capability of paralleling two separate systems. Additional testing included simulated frequency regulation, which involved switching the units from charge to discharge at up to one megawatt of power every four seconds for several hours. The KEMA summary report will be available on Altair's website, www.altairnano.com and on the KEMA website at www.kema.com. __Source
Utility-scale energy storage is mandatory, in order for large scale wind and solar power projects to be made viable as baseload power. Sodium sulfur batteries have been the front-runner for utility load-leveling and large scale backup, but if Altair's new lithium titanate batteries can outperform the NaS batteries at comparable cost, there may be a new, better utility storage "sheriff" coming to town.

As for trying to park four semi-trailers in your backyard to provide a month's power backup for your home, better reconsider. If you have to ask how much these high-performance batteries cost, you can't afford them.


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Blogger Snake Oil Baron said...

Does it seem that chemistry (with a little physics to provide innovative surface area gains) will be the field that drives energy storage from non-regulatable sources for the foreseeable future? Will batteries out compete concepts like flywheels and compressed gas and such, which have been suggested as means of storing energy, in your opinion?

Wednesday, 09 July, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Energy density and the economics of different forms of energy storage will determine how well different forms of storage match the particular need.

These batteries are super-charged for utility use. Home storage backup could use much cheaper batteries.

Where nanotechnology, chemistry, physics, metallurgy, and electrical engineering overlap is where energy storage research will likely bloom.

Batteries can be made to be extremely scalable. Compressed gas is scalable, but there is only so much room for improvement in energy density. Flywheels have a lot of problems and limitations that batteries do not have. Eventually superconducting storage may play a large role.

Thursday, 10 July, 2008  

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