Japanese electronics giant Sony and Hydro-Québec have announced a partnership to develop a large-scale energy storage system aimed at better integrating intermittent renewable sources of electricity into power grids.
Dubbed Esstalion Technologies, the partnership aims to design and produce a prototype of an energy storage system capable of holding 1.2 megawatts—enough power for around 23 homes.
Esstalion is the latest entrant in the race to effectively store and transmit such energy through existing power grids. The stakes are huge. Unlike hydro-electricity, wind turbines and solar panels only produce energy when the wind blows or the sun shines. During times of peak demand, utility companies still rely on burning fuel to keep up. A large-scale system to store and release solar and wind energy on demand would make these clean energy options as dependable as hydro and nuclear.
Hydro-Québec scientists have been experimenting with lithium-ion rechargeable batteries and has been licensing its battery chemistry to Sony since 2003.
The prototype will be developed at a Hydro-Québec research station in Varennes. It will include around 500 rechargeable batteries with life spans of up to ten years. The plan is to eventually develop a “grid-scale” version of the prototype of up to 40 megawatts.
Esstalion will be the latest in a crowded field of companies working to unlock the secret to renewable energy “on demand.”
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