This past summer, Texas suffered through a long, brutal heat wave.

As people cranked up their air conditioners, electricity demand in the state hit record highs.

Michael Webber, an engineering professor at the University of Texas at Austin, says the state’s electricity grid was able to handle the demands placed upon it — partly because of battery storage.

Webber: “They really fill in the gap when there’s a mismatch in supply from traditional power plants and demand from air conditioning. … At one point we even had like two and a half gigawatts worth of battery output to prop up the grid. That’s like two nuclear power plants worth of batteries. And that really saved us from going into rolling blackouts or having a bigger failure.”

Batteries are particularly advantageous when paired with solar and wind power because they can be charged when there is excess energy available — for example, early in the day when the sun is beating down on solar panels.

Webber: “They’re really handy because you can charge them up when power is cheap and abundant, and then you can discharge them — or use them to prop up the grid is another way to say that — when times are scarce and prices are high.”

Like during a heat wave or when solar and wind production drops.

So as extreme weather grows more common, renewable energy paired with battery storage could help provide a clean, reliable supply of electricity.

Reporting Credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media