Giant Battery Station For Wind, Solar In China

Some experts say that energy storage technologies still have a long way to go before they are cost-effective on a utility scale. But, cost-effective or not, China is deploying energy storage in a big way, with an eye toward restructuring its electrical system and creating a model for smart grid development.

BYD, a Chinese manufacturer of batteries, solar panels and other energy technologies, said construction has been completed on what could be the world’s largest battery-based energy storage station. The utility-scale project – in Zhangbei, Hebei Province, and owned by the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) – consists of 100 megawatts (MW) of wind power generation capacity, 40 MW of solar, 36 megawatt-hours (MWh) of battery-based energy storage and a smart power transmission system. The $500 million (about 3.3 billion RMB) project is part of China’s “Golden Sun” program, a national subsidy program for solar energy systems.


image via BYD

The energy storage portion of the power plant consists of BYD’s lithium-iron-phosphate battery technology, installed in long, low buildings that appear to have solar panels on their roofs. Although this type of battery is more commonly known for its use in electric vehicles (like the recently released e6), its 20-year service life and “peak shaving” and “load leveling” charge and discharge methodologies prompted SGCC to select it for this project. The project is the second commercial grid-tied battery storage system to use the technology since the Shenzhen Baoqing Battery Energy Storage Station was commissioned in October. That system, in the Longgang District of Shenzhen City, is said to provide 12 MWh of energy storage for use in load management, but is not directly integrated with renewable energy technologies.

With a goal of meeting 9.5 percent of its electricity needs with renewable energy sources by 2015, China needs to make major investment in smart grid and energy storage technologies in order to integrate variable energy resources like solar and wind power. As the world’s largest electricity consumer, China is positioning itself to take the lead in creating standards for these still-emerging markets.

Although the U.S. has seen grid-tied battery-based energy storage systems deployed in Texas and West Virginia (with others planned for Hawaii, California and Massachusetts), none of these comes close to the SGCC system in terms of size or scope. Unlike the U.S. projects, which are mostly smaller pilot projects deployed by independent developers or investor-owned utilities, the State Grid project is owned and operated by the largest utility in the world. The Chinese government-owned SGCC has a service area covering 88 percent of China’s national territory, and serves over 1 billion people. Its sheer size and influence will, undoubtedly, have an impact on which energy storage technologies rise to the top.

According to Xiu Binglin, deputy director of China’s National Energy Administration, the State Grid project is the new model: “The large-scale implementation of clean and green energy, such as wind and solar power, can only be realized when the technical difficulties of this new energy application in the utility system are resolved. This State Grid project demonstrates a solution and will be the model of development for China’s new energy resources.”

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).


  • Reply January 3, 2012



  • Reply January 4, 2012


    It is nice to see China develops and implements cutting edge technologies in energy sector. That would not only help China to ease reliance on fossil energy sources, but also help the world to dump them all together on a long run…

  • Reply January 24, 2012


    I trust that this message is getting to President Obama, so that he can see the kind of new technology jobs will be needed for our unemployed, but skilled, workers.u00a0 All I see are ads on TV showing how the fossil fuel industries are working to create new jobs.u00a0 When will we ever learn??

  • Reply January 25, 2012


    In todays enviromental problems these are the actions that should be taken as an example. I trust that many technologicaly advanced countries con take this as a lesson and start giving the world new energy solutions.

  • Reply January 27, 2012


    Having visited China recently I was very impressed with the high standard of new transport systems and infrastructure being introduced there. With the work ethic and the and the will to improve we will many new innovations starting in China. u00a0u00a0

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