A battery farm heads to Alaska

An Alaskan utility has aspirations to double the capacity of its wind farm project. So, its turning to battery storage to bring some stability to the grid.

Alaska utility Kodiak Electric Association has aspirations to double the capacity of its wind farm project, which already provides nearly 10 percent of its power. To do that, KEA has to somehow bring stability to this sporadic source of power. Its answer: a battery farm.

Xtreme Power announced Tuesday an agreement with KEA to install a 3 megawatt battery storage and management system onto the Pillar Mountain Wind Project.  The 4.5 MW wind farm was completed in 2009. The rural utility decided last year to expand Pillar Mountain in an effort to wean itself off diesel-powered generation. But the intermittent nature of wind power on this scale can create grid instability issues, the electric cooperative noted in a release today. Ultimately, the electric cooperative wants 95 percent of its electricity to be generated by renewable energy by 2020.

Xtreme Power's battery storage system, which has management software designed to control use and smooth out power fluctuations on the grid, is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Battery storage for remote, utility-scale clean energy farms is Xtreme Power's bailiwick. The company, which is backed by investors SAIL Capital Partners, Dow Chemical, Fluor Corp. and BP, among others, has megawatt-scale battery systems that back up wind farms in Hawaii and Texas. The company also is working on smaller scale storage solutions such as microgrids. Xtreme is supplying batteries to off-grid colonias along the Texas-Mexico border, where residents rely heavily on diesel-powered generators for electricity.

Photo: Flickr user jkbrooks85, CC 2.0

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com