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Xcel Energy will begin testing a 1 MW battery storage technology to demonstrate its ability to store wind energy and move it to the electricity grid when needed.

"Energy storage is key to expanding the use of renewable energy," says Dick Kelly, Xcel Energy chairman, president and CEO. "This technology has the potential to reduce the impact caused by the variability and limited predictability of wind energy generation. As the nation's leader in distributing wind energy, this will be very important to both us and our customers."

Xcel Energy has signed a contract to purchase a battery from NGK Insulators Ltd. that will be an integral part of a project. The sodium-sulfur battery is commercially available, and versions of this technology are already being used in Japan and in a few U.S. applications. According to Xcel Energy, this is the first U.S. application of the battery as a direct wind energy storage device.

The 20 50 kW battery modules will be roughly the size of two semi trailers and weigh approximately 80 tons. They will be able to store about 7.2 MW hours of electricity, with a charge/discharge capacity of 1 MW.

Testing will take place in Luverne, Minn., with the battery installation beginning this spring adjacent and connected to a nearby 11 MW wind farm owned by Minwind Energy LLC. S&C Electric Co. will install the battery and all associated interconnection components. The battery is expected to go online in October.

Partners in the project with Xcel Energy include the University of Minnesota, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Great Plains Institute.

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