PORTLAND - We use batteries to charge our phones, computers and cars, so why not our electrical grid?
Engineers at the Bonneville Power Administration are testing the idea right now.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, we rely on renewable energy such as hydro and wind power to keep our lights on.
But sometimes it's so windy or the rivers are flowing so high, that the system produces more energy than we need. Currently there's really no good way to store that excess renewable energy.
Engineers at the Bonneville Power Administration believe they've come up with a way to do that.
They're using a transportable battery storage system, basically a trailer full of batteries, to store electricity.
It's in the test phase right now, but engineers say it's proving to be about 85-percent efficient. Which means someday, we may be able to exist on a totally green grid.
“If we as consumers want to have power that comes on any time... and we want renewable intermittent power sources like wind and solar, then we really need to figure out the energy storage puzzle,” said Jeff Hildreth, a BPA electrical engineer.
“Something like a battery where you could store that excess supply and save it for when you need it just makes sense,” added BPA spokesman Joel Scruggs.
Bonneville Power says the battery storage unit could also save ratepayers money.
“If we can save the energy while we have an excess supply of it and call upon it when there's demand, we wouldn't have to in some cases buy energy on the open market,” said Scruggs.
The battery unit will have to go through two years of testing. The unit will move from Vancouver’s Ross Complex substation to a wind farm in the Gorge for a test trial this April.