How do you get solar energy at night or wind power on a still day? These renewable energy sources are not available on demand . . . but they soon could be.

Consumers Energy in Michigan has teamed up with Michigan State University to develop large-scale batteries. These new batteries will store energy from renewable sources like wind and solar, make it available anytime, and make energy production more efficient.

That’s because over time, electricity demands go up and down. So to be prepared, utilities generate more than necessary.

Wheeler: “On a typical day we have about 5,000 megawatts of electricity that gets used by our customers in Michigan. On a peak day in the summertime, you can have more than 8,000.”

Brian Wheeler

That’s Consumers Energy spokesman Brian Wheeler. He says any electricity generated by utilities, but not used by consumers, is usually lost. So if batteries could store enough power to help utilities meet peak demand, energy production would become more sustainable and less expensive.

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Next year, Consumers Energy plans to add batteries that store one to three megawatts of power to its electrical grid. This will only support a fraction of the state’s energy storage needs, but it’s a significant step towards a clean energy future.

Reporting credit: Peter Bresnan/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Solar photo: Copyright protected.

More Resources
Michigan utility partners with university on energy storage pilot
Consumers Energy works with Michigan State University to make transition from coal to natural gas as energy source
MSU’s energy transition (videos)

Diana Madson

Diana Madson contributed regularly to Yale Climate Connections from 2014 to 2021. She enjoys exploring U.S.-based stories about unexpected and innovative solutions to climate change. In addition to her...