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California's giant battery test is a step towards clean energy

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One of the biggest challenges of switching to clean energy sources is finding a place to store excess power. That's relatively easy on a small scale, but it's much more daunting for your utility company. Southern California Edison is apparently ready to take on that challenge, however. It just launched the Tehachapi Energy Storage Project, a large-scale experiment in using lithium-ion batteries (608,832 of them, to be exact) to preserve unused electricity. For the next two years, the 32 megawatt-hours array will scoop up leftover energy from nearby sources, including a wind turbine area; SCE will be watching closely to see how the lithium-ion packs improve its grid's real world performance.

It could be a while before you see this sort of battery station elsewhere on SCE's network, no matter how successful the test may be. The batteries are only supporting a substation in a small town. It would take a considerably larger effort to support a major city, and even China's record-setting storage system tops out at 36 megawatt-hours. However, it's still an important step toward bringing eco-friendly energy to many more people -- eventually, you might not have to be picky about where you live (or use your own generators) in order to get all your power from renewable resources.

Batteries in the Tehachapi Energy Storage Project

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