When most people think of batteries, they think of the little gadgets that power their electronics. An electric battery is defined as a device that has at least one electrochemical cell with external connections that power electrical devices such as cameras, smartphones, computer keyboards, garage door openers and more.
Indeed, these little batteries are a staple of our lives, but super-sized batteries are playing a pivotal role in advancing technologies. Large lead acid batteries are used to power electric cars, and battery banks big enough to fill a large room sustain telephone exchanges and computer data centers. And batteries keep on growing. Late last year, Elon Musk rolled out the world’s largest lithium-ion battery in South Australia. The trailblazing CEO of SpaceX and Tesla developed the giant battery to deliver 100 megawatts of power. That’s enough to energize over 30,000 homes.
The battery doesn’t look quite like you’d imagine. Rather, it resembles a football field-sized network of batteries enclosed in “Tesla Powerpacks.” The giant battery gets power from a nearby wind farm and stores that power for future needs. It’s a sustainable energy solution that acts as a reservoir to meet power demands, whether or not the wind is blowing when those demands swell.
More Big Batteries
The Tesla battery helps solve one of the biggest quandaries related to renewable energy: Once we generate energy, how do we hold it? But Tesla’s not the only one addressing this challenge. In the United Kingdom, the Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire has a network of six power-generating units to help power the grid. By the end of the year, four of these units will have been converted from coal to biomass, one of the only renewable energy sources that isn’t intermittent.
Though not quite as large as its South Australian endeavor, Tesla has a storage installation in California with a 20-megawatt capacity. Also in California, AES Energy Storage has developed a battery project that can generate 37.5 megawatts between its two locations.
Why do big batteries matter? To build a sustainable future for the world, we need renewable energy sources that can power us consistently, even when demand surges.