Batteries for the power grid, or batteries for electric cars?
Posted by David Brooks | Friday, December 23, 2011
A123 Systems, the big-battery firm based in Waltham, Mass., came to attention pursuing the electric-vehicle market, but may be having more success in larger projects for grid storage/grid stabilization. Basically it puts up a building full of lithium-ion batteries hooked cleverly into the grid so they can store power from wind/solar farms, or smooth out fluctuations that wind power causes. (This is the market that Beacon Power in Mass. is pursuing via flywheels.)
A123 is developing a 2-MW facility (basically a bunch of lithium-ion batteries in a big cuilding) in Meford, Mass., and has gotten the contract for an 11-MW facility for a big wind farm on the Hawaiian island of Maui, which is pushing hard to escape the very high costs of generating electricity in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Here's a story about the Maui project, from CNet. From the story:
One of the advantages of lithium ion batteries is that they are able to supply lots of power very quickly. A123 Systems said its power electronics can detect fluctuations in supply and be able to send 11 megwawatts of power in milliseconds. Adding storage to renewable energy generation is more commercially viable in Hawaii because it has the highest electricity prices in the U.S.
By the way, A123 Systems says it got the corporate name from the symbol "for the Hamaker force constant, used to calculate the attractive and repulsive forces between particles at nano dimensions.: