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New energy storage technology to be tested in Hawaii

A new battery technology that uses liquid metal to store power will be tested next year at one of First Wind’s projects in Hawaii, a company spokesman said on Wednesday.

The liquid-metal batteries are being developed by Ambri Inc., a Boston-area startup founded by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The company is working to turn its battery concept into a commercially viable product that will store power for less than $500 a kilowatt-hour, an amount that’s less than a third of the cost of some current battery technologies.

“First Wind is supporting Ambri’s battery efforts and we hope to work with them on a modest demonstration project in Hawaii,” said John Lamontagne, First Wind spokesman. “To date we haven’t determined where or which project, and we still have to formalize an agreement with them,” he said.

First Wind operated three wind energy projects in Hawaii — two on Oahu’s North Shore and one above Maalaea on Maui.

Battery storage helps compensate for the intermittent nature of wind and solar energy. Batteries can store wind energy generated at night and then fed into the grid during the day when demand for electricity is higher. With solar energy, the batteries can store energy generated during daylight hours for use during Hawaiian Electric’s peak demand period between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.

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