The world’s biggest wind turbine manufacturer is testing the potential of car battery technology to provide dispatchable power from renewable energy.
Danish company Vestas hopes to solve the problem of creating reliable energy from intermittent sun and wind sources by using commercial energy storage in new ways.
The company has invested €10 million ($16m) to help its partner Northvolt build Europe’s biggest battery cell plant backed by major car investors.
Northvolt is headed by former Tesla executive Peter Carlsson. The companies plan to develop industry energy storage based on the latest car battery technology.
Auto companies pool car battery technology
Because battery costs have traditionally been high, developments in battery technology have lagged behind those in solar panels.
However, the technology is becoming increasingly viable as vehicle manufacturers like BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen and Volvo Car Group boost electric car production.
Vestas wants to piggyback on this pooled knowledge. It plans to develop a powerful lithium ion battery suitable for power plants of the future.
The company is also working alongside electric car giant Tesla, the firm behind South Australia’s world-first ‘mega battery’.
In another global first, Vestas will use Tesla batteries in a utility-scale project harnessing wind and solar energy for dispatchable power.
According to Vestas chairman Bert Nordberg, this could provide reliable, on-demand power to the grid.
The need for clean dispatchable power in Australia
Dispatchable renewable power is central to the Federal Government’s National Energy Guarantee (NEG). The key challenge is to control and utilise the increasing amount of clean Australian energy coming online every day.
Because fossil-fueled power stations provide a constant source of power, they have traditionally been seen as preferable to renewables. However, rapid technological advance is making clean energy ever more efficient.
Storage batteries are increasingly regarded as critical to the provision of dispatchable, baseload power drawn from wind and solar energy.
Batteries will store this energy while smart technology will control the flow of power throughout the grid. It can then be dispatched to areas of peak demand.