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Li-ion cells get on the U.S. electric grid

Posted: 16 Aug 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:U.S. electric grid  Li-ion cells  wind and solar farms 

In a step towards using the lithium-ion batteries technology to put solar and wind on the electric grid, A123 Systems will sell 44MW worth of its lithium-ion batteries to AES Energy Storage.

AES said it will use 20MW of the batteries to regulate frequency on the New York grid, the same kind of application needed for giant wind and solar farms. AES's corporate parent said it will use lithium ion starting in 2011 to handle such regulation for a 32MW wind plant it operates in West Virginia.

"We wouldn't be doing projects at this scale if there was still product development" needed in the technology, said Chris Shelton, president of AES Energy Storage, LLC in an interview.

He would not reveal financial details of the A123 purchase. However, he did say part of the New York plan depends on closing loan guarantees with the U.S. Department of Energy.

AES has operated since December 2009 a 12 MW energy storage system installed by A123 at one of its power plants in Chile. That system is based on battery technology A123 developed for a hybrid bus for BAE Systems, Shelton said.

Although the technology for grid-scale lithium ion storage is ready, the regulations and financial incentives are not, Shelton said.

AES is negotiating deals to sell systems and services using A123's batteries to electric utilities, but so far it has only installed the systems at its own power generation plants.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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