Energy storage may seem like the wind of change, with the potential to firstly, transform variable renewable energy sources like wind and photovoltaics into base load power, secondly change the way utilities price and buy energy, and thirdly, serve as a natural solution for fragile island grids.
However, thus far, the potential of energy storage (other than pumped hydro) remains just that — potential. Instead, suppliers in the electrochemical battery storage industry are undergoing a rough maturation period.
The recent battery room fire that erupted at the wind-energy storage farm in Kahuku is one such example.
“A smoke alarm went off” early Wednesday morning on the north shore of Oahu Hawai’i, at the 12-turbine, 30 megawatt Kahuku wind farm, according to an Xtreme Power spokesperson. Developed by First Wind, Kahuku is augmented with a 15-megawatt battery from VC-funded Xtreme Power and sells power to the island utility, HECO.
Xtreme’s “chemical capacitor” storage technology is meant to match lithium-ion battery performance, by using all dry and inert materials that can operate at room temperatures, unlike the current leading grid-scale technology of sodium sulfur batteries.