LONDON (Reuters) - The British arm of German utility E.ON AG is developing a giant battery using a secret combination of chemicals to store wind and solar power for times of high demand, the company said on Thursday.
The prototype will be the size of four large shipping containers and will contain the power of 10 million standard AA batteries, capable of producing 1MW of electricity for four hours, said E.ON UK.
“This is the holy grail of the wind industry,” said a spokesman. “The electrochemical technology is proven but we’re using a new mix of chemicals to overcome the difficulties that stopped previous attempts.
“The mix of the chemicals is the hush hush bit,” he added.
The battery should be operational by late 2009 and will help solve one of the main problems of wind and solar power, added the power firm, one of Britain’s biggest with around 8.1 million electricity and gas customers.
“Green power is only generated from wind farms when the wind blows, and that might not be when the power’s needed by customers,” said Bob Taylor, MD of Energy Wholesale and Technology.
“By researching and developing this battery we can store the power generated by wind farms any time and then use it when our customers need it the most. A school with solar panels can store the power generated at weekends and use it when the kids are back in school.”
E.ON also announced a 40 million pound ($81 million) research fund for energy storage and other promising energy technologies.
The group plans to spend 1 billion pounds on sources of renewable energy over the next five years, including new onshore and offshore wind power, biomass and wave and tidal power.
E.ON shares were up 1.4 percent at 124.86 euros at 1504 GMT.