Lead-acid batteries

Introduction to Lead-acid Batteries

Lead-acid batteries are one of the most common electrochemical energy storage devices. They are used in a variety of applications, most people are accustomed to using them in vehicles, where their ability to provide high currents for cranking power is valued. For remote power systems, deep discharge batteries are used. Unlike car starter batteries which are used to provide high current for very short periods, deep discharge batteries are designed to hold larger amounts of energy for longer periods of time. Although batteries are reliable, they have a limited life, are heavy to ship, and contain toxic materials that require removal at the end of their useful life. Typically, remote applications require larger batteries that have higher amounts of lead and more room for electrolyte. Lead-acid batteries have moderate power density and good response time. Depending on the power conversion technology incorporated, batteries can go from accepting energy to supplying energy instantaneously. Lead-acid batteries are affected by temperature and must be well maintained to achieve maximum life expectancy.

Lead-Acid Batteries in Alaska

There have been some diesel-battery hybrid power systems installed in the state, most notably at the Denali Park visitor center where the diesel generator charges the system at night and runs on batteries during the day when visitors are present. Other examples include a 1.4 MWhr system installed in Metlakatla and a 2.25 MWhr system installed at Chena Hot Springs. Both systems were installed for load leveling to improve the quality of power delivery. Although the timber mill in Metlakatla that spurred the installation shut down three months after the battery bank was brought online, the battery system now supports the total Metlakatla load and is charged almost exclusively by hydro power, displacing a majority of diesel generation. The original battery cells have reached the end of their life and are being replaced. In 2001 a battery bank was installed in Lime Village to store energy from a solar array, unfortunately that system experienced repeated battery failures and was beyond the operating and maintenance ability of personnel, and produced power for only about a year. However, as of 2012, Lime Village applied for a grant to attempt to get the system back online.


Lead-acid battery in a rural application

Lead-Acid Battery Projects

Chena Hot Springs


Lime Village

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