General Electric Co.’s new Schenectady-built Durathon battery for the first time has been incorporated into the design of a wind turbine, where it will store excess electricity that can be released into the grid as needed.
The first three wind turbines to use the design will be installed as part of an 86-turbine wind farm in Mills County, Texas. Chicago-based Invenergy expects to have the wind farm fully operational by the end of the year.
Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
GE has touted the heavy-duty batteries as a way to compensate for the intermittent power flows that renewable sources such as wind and the sun provide.
By storing excess electricity generated in optimal conditions, power producers can smooth out the delivery of the power to the utility grid.
Prescott Logan, general manager of GE’s energy storage business in Schenectady, described the new design as “unique.
“Other groups have bought large battery systems that they’ll install in overall support of a wind farm,” Logan said Friday afternoon. “But integrated into a turbine – it’s the first time.”
The batteries avoid the need by grid operators to curtail the power flow to keep the grid in balance when more electricity is being generated than used.
“The ability to store energy is a huge challenge for the 21st century,” GE CEO Jeff Immelt said at the opening of the Schenectady battery plant last July. “This is a big market.”
GE’s downtown battery plant represents a $170 million investment by the company, with jobs projected to grow to 450 workers.
GE’s renewable energy headquarters also is based on the company’s Schenectady campus, and worldwide monitoring of wind turbine performance takes place here.
“The biggest opportunity right now is using batteries with the renewables, the intermittent sources of power,” Logan said.
The new turbines are large. By one account the rotors are the size of the London Eye, the massive Ferris wheel along the Thames in London.
GE said the new 2.5-megawatt wind turbine is 25 percent more efficient than its predecessor, with a 15 percent increase in power output for low wind-speed sites.
It also uses the industrial Internet to provide smooth predictable power, GE said on its website.
Software monitors thousands of variables in the turbines and batteries to smooth the delivery of power to the grid and avoid wasting excess electricity.
Logan said he also sees opportunities to use the batteries with solar installations.
“Solar pricing has really gone down quite a bit,” he said. “With that has come an increased demand for battery systems with solar.”
For Invenergy, the Mills County project is the first to use the Durathon batteries. A spokeswoman declined to comment on any future plans for other installations.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding