Tesla unveiled the world’s largest battery storage facility on Monday. The facility is situated in the California desert and constitutes a significant chunk of the global battery storage capacity.
The new plant will serve multiple purposes. First off, the factory components comprised of as many as 16,000 lithium-ion battery cells, will charge themselves using the power from the main grid. The power will be stored for use in situations when the demand surges beyond the grid’s capacity to supply properly on its own — say during excessive demand or load surges. Whenever such surges occur, the battery storage plant will kick into action and provide supplemental power to the main grid.
The plant was first envisioned after a massive methane leak at a natural gas facility near LA got everyone thinking about alternatives that could take over in case of situations involving temporary power crisis. Ever the visionary, Elon Musk and his company came to the rescue offering to build and connect this particular facility with the main grid. The plan was accepted by the government and the result, is now out there for everyone to see. On its own, the plant is capable of powering as many as 15,000 homes.
Connecting multiple plants together to meet the power needs of a particular area has been an age old practice in electrical engineering. Combinations of Hydro-Nuclear, Hydro-Wind, Hydro-Solar etc. have been in use since ages. While one of the plant meets the main demand, the other kicks in at times when the demand for power surges past the usual expectations — ensuring uninterrupted supply to households and commercial projects.
Meanwhile, the project is of particular import for Tesla. The company is one of those who are looking to make their fortune in a future that relies heavily upon renewable sources — wind and solar included — to meet its energy needs. And where do you store the power generated from these sources? Why in batteries of course.
The California based power plant is also an opportunity for Tesla to conduct the first large scale test of its battery storage system. The company has already invested over $5 Billion towards its Gigafactory in the Nevada desert, with the intent of churning out Lithium-ion batteries to meet its various needs.
And continuous efforts in the field — driven further by electric cars and power-walls –have made Lithium-ion batteries far more economical than they were say, five years ago. According to some estimates, the prices of the storage systems have halved, finally making them a viable alternative to the natural gas plants. Tesla’s latest storage facility marks another major step on our part, to moving towards a future with better energy alternatives.
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