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Zainab Calcuttawala

Zainab Calcuttawala

Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…

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Tesla’s New Frontier: Batteries And Wind

To power Tesla’s electric car empire, the company has joined hands with Vestas, a top wind turbine manufacturer, to create a storage system that would make power generated from wind useful during quiet days in the jetstreams.

Vestas has been on this quest for a while already. Its research and development team already has ten projects lined up to tackle this issue. Both solar and wind power have this same drawback: a dark day or a windless morning can throw off power generation for entire communities.

Natural gas turbines replaced solar power capacity during the August 21st solar eclipse, highlighting the carbon-light fossil fuel’s emerging role as a gateway “green” energy in the coming decades, according to a report by Fortune released before the sun took its proverbial nap.

By 2034, natural gas will overtake oil as the main source of energy, and by 2050 it will be the single largest such source globally, satisfying 27 percent of demand. That’s according to the latest Energy Transition Outlook by DNV GL, a global quality assurance and risk management services provider for the oil and gas, maritime, and power industries.

So far the wind power giant has focused its efforts with European companies, since the governments of the region do not oppose green energy with the same vigor as they do in the United States. In 2012, Vestas began an initiative at its Lem Kaer wind farm in Denmark, which boasts 12 MW of production. The researchers equipped the facility with two lithium-ion batteries, which successfully stored excess energy for future use, prompting the Danish company to ramp up complementary efforts. Related: Post Harvey: Crude Climbs As Gasoline Crashes

Vestas’ new venture with Tesla was aimed at giving the former a “competitive edge” in the emerging green energy business. Despite the attractiveness of EU energy markets, American consumers devour the most energy of any country in the world, making it the most prized venue for expansive production growth.

“Across a number of projects, Vestas is working with different energy storage technologies with specialized companies, including Tesla, to explore and test how wind turbines and energy storage can work together in sustainable energy solutions that can lower the cost of energy,” Vestas’s official statement on Friday said. 

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been on the prowl for opportunities to apply the companies’ battery research to other sectors. In July, Tesla signed a deal with South Australia to construct a gargantuan energy storage house to ensure a balanced grid. Related: In A Bold Move, Saudis Raise Crude Prices For Asia

Of course, wind turbines with batteries attached to them is not exactly a major innovation. General Electric provides a decent explanation of one of its system on its website:

“GE’s brilliant turbine platform includes battery technology. Integrating this technology into a wind turbine introduces short-term energy storage into the complete turbine system. Additionally, it lets wind farm operators benefit from energy storage without incurring the high costs of farm-level battery installation.”

What sets this partnership apart is the caliber and history of Tesla and Vestas in their respective industries. When either of the two companies announces a new project, you know it is going to be big.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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  • Josh Gregner on September 06 2017 said:
    This has the potential to be truly big: batteries can not only provide electricity when the wind is not blowing but they are good for a great number of grid services (i.e. current / frequency stabilization etc.). On top of that, they can absorb energy if needed.

    They need milliseconds to ramp-up/down and are much more flexible than any power plant. To use the old-fashioned terms: wind+storage has the potential to replace base-load, load following and peaker plants all at the same time + perform a wide range of grid-services.

    Today batteries are still expensive. But the cost curve is declining rapidly and there is no end in sight for that trend. So I believe that gas will be economically dead sooner than many suspect.
  • Brendan K on September 13 2017 said:
    Can someone tell the current Oz govt about renewables; they seem confused or sadly on a hate trip re renewable energy.

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