The first floor of the University of California's newest engineering building is soon to be powered by the equivalent 1.1M high-end lithium-ion AA batteries. If you are curious as to what this looks like, the 1.1 megawatt power supply is big enough to cover a 50-meter long Olympic size swimming pool. That's a lot of power.
One media AA battery stores enough power to generate one-watt hour of energy. So what is the purpose of putting together such a large battery pack? To eventually take the building off the power grid and prove it can generate its own electricity. Energy is harnessed from solar panels on the roof and then stored in the batteries to be used when needed.
The school received the $2.5 million dollar donation of the batteries from China's Winston Global Energy. While powering buildings using batteries of this size is an astronomically expensive proposition now, the idea here is to test the viability of energy storage as we look towards a solar powered future. Testing and experimenting with all avenues helps determine the best solutions down the road.
We love the idea of megawatt power, but we are hoping the experimentation with energy storing batteries finds a way to factor in all those dead AA's we have lying around in our junk drawer. Now that would be a solution we could all get behind.