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World’s 10 Biggest Grid-Scale Batteries

The shelf life of a watt, the basic unit for measuring electric power, is short – very, very short.

Electricity travels about 186,000 miles per second. As a result, it must be used more or less at the same time it is generated – unless it can be stored.

The challenges of matching supply and demand in real time have become significantly more complex with the increased deployment of intermittent or variable resources like wind power or solar photovoltaics on the electric grid.

The vast majority of grid-scale energy storage projects are mechanical systems, especially pumped-hydro storage systems. In 2009, the world boasted more than 100 gigawatts of pumped-hydro storage capacity, including more than 20 gigawatts of capacity in the United States.

To put this in perspective, a 100 watt light bulb consumes one hundred watts of power when turned on. If kept on for an hour, this light bulb would consume a total of 100 watt-hours of energy. A kilowatt (kW) is one thousand watts. A megawatt (MW) is one million watts and a gigawatt is one billion watts, or 1,000 megawatts.

Unlike mechanical systems, electrochemical energy storage systems, or batteries, have proven to be more challenging to commercialize.

All things considered, the world’s biggest batteries do not seem especially big.


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