"Giant Batteries Are Transforming the Way the U.S. Uses Electricity"

"They’re delivering solar power after dark in California and helping to stabilize grids in other states. And the technology is expanding rapidly."

"California draws more electricity from the sun than any other state. It also has a timing problem: Solar power is plentiful during the day but disappears by evening, just as people get home from work and electricity demand spikes. To fill the gap, power companies typically burn more fossil fuels like natural gas.

That’s now changing. Since 2020, California has installed more giant batteries than anywhere in the world apart from China. They can soak up excess solar power during the day and store it for use when it gets dark.

Those batteries play a pivotal role in California’s electric grid, partially replacing fossil fuels in the evening. Between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. on April 30, for example, batteries supplied more than one-fifth of California’s electricity and, for a few minutes, pumped out 7,046 megawatts of electricity, akin to the output from seven large nuclear reactors.

Across the country, power companies are increasingly using giant batteries the size of shipping containers to address renewable energy’s biggest weakness: the fact that the wind and sun aren’t always available."

Brad Plumer and Nadja Popovich report for the New York Times May 7, 2024.

Source: NYTimes, 05/08/2024