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Published on January 29th, 2013 | by Nicholas Brown

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Minnesota Wind Farm Battery To Be Restarted

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January 29th, 2013 by  

Image Source:: Star Tribune

Xcel Energy, a Minneapolis based utility company, plans to restart a battery bank used for wind energy storage after a potential fire risk prompted its shutdown.

This $4.7 million sodium-sulfur battery bank was operational for two years without a problem, however, a similar battery caught fire in Japan.

It was capable of powering 500 homes for 7.2 hours and was manufactured by NGK Insulators of Nagoya.

After the September 2011 battery fire in Japan, NGK ceased production of the batteries and advised their customers, including Xcel Energy and 19 others in North America, to stop using them. NGK later determined that a faulty cell had leaked molten material, triggering a short-circuit and fire.

“It wasn’t like we had problems,” added Mark Willers, CEO of MinWind III, which owns the adjacent wind farm and substation and sells the output to Xcel. “It ran perfectly.”

The battery was rebuilt by NGK Insulators, and according to Xcel Energy, the battery bank is likely to go back online in February.

“It is a brand-new battery at this point,” Albert Choi, Xcel’s Denver-based manager of next-generation research, said during an interview.

Now that the problem has been identified, this battery bank can continue its important long-term trial which will give the world, and especially utility companies, an idea of one way in which wind energy storage can be done, and also the viability of this system set up by Xcel Energy and NGK Insulators.

Many are still uncertain about wind energy storage, and some flat out say that there is no way it can work, this is why someone has to prove them wrong (or right).

Cheap wind energy storage would solidify the advantages of wind power and make it available to everyone at all times, without wasting any of it. This has the potential to save money as the cost of wasted wind energy normally has to be passed on to consumers.

Xcel Energy has the most wind power generation capacity in the United States, and other utilities like them are considering energy storage to capture the extra electricity generated by wind turbines.

Source: StarTribune Business

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About the Author

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is: Kompulsa.com.



  • Breakingwind

    Capable of powering 500 homes for 7.2 hours at a cost of $4.7 million …not exactly cheap energy.

    Sodium-sulfur !!! ….. not exactly safe storage.

    Cost of end of life disposal ??? wont be cheap or clean !!!

    • Bob_Wallace

      At this point in time we should expect battery prices to be quite high. This is the beginning and early units must be pretty much handmade. After designs are perfected and manufacturing volumes increase prices will almost certainly drop. That’s what always happens with new technology.

      The idea for wind farm storage is not to store power for long times right now. The need is to be able to store enough so that the wind farm can sell a 15 minute block of electricity to the grid.

      Now if they pre-sell a 15 minute block and the wind lets up they have to go to the peak market and purchase some very expensive power to fulfill the contract. If they have some storage then they can continue to sell 15 minute blocks until the wind drops and they can finish supplying the last block from their storage.

      End of life. Recycle. Sodium. Sulfur. Steel container. Non-corrosive metal liner.

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