photo by Yuan Yufei (source: Wikimedia Commons)

What, you mean you haven’t been breathless with anticipation regarding the large-scale storage of renewable energy from wind and solar power? Well get with the program. Presidio, a small town on the U.S. side of the border with Mexico, is also on the frontier of energy storage technology.

Life in Presidio, Texas is harsh, isolated, hot and stormy. So why would anyone live there? Well, I don’t have the answer to that, but those who do reside in Presidio endure some of the hottest temperatures in the United States as well as frequent electrical storms, which tend to disrupt the town’s power supply. Presidio is linked to the U.S. power grid by a single 60-mile (100 km) line built in 1948 that provides a tenuous supply of electricity.

From an article in National Geographic:

And sweltering in the dark has been only part of the problem. The situation wreaks havoc with electrical devices, causing computer systems to reset frequently—an annoyance in homes and a constant worry for authorities.

So what Presidio needs is a dependable supply of energy. The answer may come in the form of new battery that’s as ‘big as Texas’. The four-megawatt sodium-sulfur (NaS) battery system is the largest of its kind in the U.S., will respond quickly to power outages and fluctuations; and be able to provide eight hours of uninterrupted power.

Sodium-sulfur battery technology has been developed extensively in Japan, including projects to use the batteries for the stabilization and storage of wind and solar power. According on a report from Japan for Sustainability, electricity output – particularly from wind turbines – varies depending on wind speeds, so efficient NaS battery systems offer promising solutions for the future of renewable energy.

This type of energy storage is still considered too expensive for solar power in the U.S., but with larger scale production – like what exists in Japan – the application of battery storage for both wind and solar should improve and grow.