China Builds the World’s Largest Battery, a Building-Sized, 36-Megawatt-Hour Behemoth

The largest battery in the world has arrived, and you likely won’t be surprised where it landed: Hebei Province, China. The State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) and electric car maker BYD–the company that most recently made big headlines a few years back when Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway took a 10 percent stake–have teamed to create a massive battery array capable of storing 36 megawatt-hours of electricity.

That’s enough to power something like 12,000 homes for an hour during a total power failure, and enough for SGCC authorities to declare it the world’s largest energy storage device. The $500 million facility is constructed of arrays of BYD batteries “larger than a football field,” according to an SGCC press release, and they should increase the region’s renewable energy efficiency by up to 10 percent.

The array, located in Zhangbei, isn’t just a stand-alone battery. It is hooked into 140 megawatts of wind and solar power generation projects as well as a smart grid transmission system. Together, these elements represent China’s push toward a smart grid system that can generate renewable energy when conditions are ripe and store excess energy in its new battery array for use when energy generation troughs throughout the day.

The Deputy Director of China’s National Energy Administration is calling it the model for the future of Chinese renewable energy development, which means it will probably be the first such battery facility of many. That’s good for both China and BYD, which has been having a bit of trouble selling its electric cars both at home and abroad.

And it’s an intriguing test-bed for the rest of the world as well. There’s been a lot of chatter globally about using various kinds of energy storage devices to smooth the peaks and valleys inherent in wind and solar power generation so that we can rely more heavily upon them. Now that China’s gone and done something on a truly large scale, the rest of us have a real-world project to watch and learn from.