The world's largest battery storage system for wind energy is online in Texas.
Batteries that can store 36 megawatts (MW) of energy during off-peak periods are attached to a 153 MW wind farm - they can hold the electricity needed for more than 10,000 homes.
The Notrees Wind Farm and Battery Facility, part of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) grid, will even out the power supply.
Duke Energy owns the wind farm and added the batteries with a $22 million matching grant from the US Department of
"It shook the renewable energy industry awake that storage is here and it's available," Ryan O'Keefe, vice president of business development for Xtreme Power, which designed and engineered the batteries, told Odessa American.
Now, businesses across the US are inquiring about batteries that can back up wind power, he says. The more widespread they become, the greater impact they can have on the grid.
Duke chose the Notrees wind farm for the project because it is its largest wind farm and has the most available land.
12 years ago, energy storage for renewable energy was a zero development, but now it's becoming an industry, notes Imre Gyuk, program manager for energy storage research at DOE.
"It's been operating every day since Dec. 27, and ERCOT is pleased," says O'Keefe.
A recent ERCOT report to the Texas legislature finds that wind and solar will be more cost-competitive than natural gas over the next 20 years.
Thousands of miles of new transmission lines are about to bring wind to all major cities in Texas and could double the wind energy.
Iowa Builds Out Wind Transmission Lines
Iowa will soon get another 400 miles of transmission lines to carry its growing load of wind energy.
Right now, as much as 25% of Iowa's wind energy can't be used because of congested transmissions lines.
The owners of the state's two biggest transmission systems will build the lines - Buffet's utility, MidAmerican Energy and ITC Holdings. Public hearings will be held this summer with the goal of completing them by 2017.
The lines would be "designed to optimize wind generation placement and to allow for the regional delivery of renewable generation in Iowa," says MidAmerican Energy, which recently completed 1000 megawatts of wind projects in the state.
MidAmerican Renewables is now the largest owner of US wind farms by an investor-owned utility.
The companies are also considering multi-state transmission lines that could export surplus wind energy to nearby states.
Iowa is currently third in the US for wind capacity, with 5,137 MW, but is first on a per-capita basis.
Wind supplied almost 25% of Iowa's electricity in 2012.