GE, Arista Battery System to Back Up Commercial Wind, Solar

by | Apr 27, 2012

General Electric has partnered with Arista Power Inc. to develop and sell systems that can store electricity from on-site solar and wind sources and release it during periods of peak demand, to help commercial customers cut their power bills.

Arista will use GE’s Durathon nickel-salt battery in its Power on Demand system, which is designed to store energy generated by wind turbines, solar photovoltaics and the electric grid.

The system uses real-time monitoring technology to track and smooth out power on the grid and release stored power only during peak demand periods, when electricity charges are at their highest. Electricity demand charges, which are based on a customer’s peak power demand, can account for up 30 to 70 percent of a commercial electric bill, according to Arista.

With the system commercial customers can see returns in two to five years, cutting their costs by 15 to 25 percent, Mark Matthews, Arista’s vice president of sales and marketing, said in a Bloomberg report.

The systems are designed for large institutions such as hospitals, university campuses and industrial businesses. Many such facilities use solar and wind installations to help optimize their renewable energy sources and ultimately have greater control over their power use. The monitoring software in the system, aside from smoothing out power demand, helps prolong the life of the battery. The system also aims to bring stability to the grid by removing the variability of wind, solar and other sources of renewable power.

The Durathon battery developed by GE is the product of a $100 million investment by the company’s transportation division and is marketed for telecommunications, utilities and uninterruptable power supply applications. The nickel salt batteries, which are manufactured at GE’s recently completed plant in Schenectady, New York, are 50 percent smaller and 25 percent lighter than traditional lead acid batteries, according to the company. The batteries last up to 20 years, operate in extreme temperatures, are recyclable and require no cooling.

Picture credit: stock.xchng user DebbieMous

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