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5 Things to Know About Batteries and Electricity Storage

Super Batteries for Homes, Businesses

Batteries similar to the ones that power laptop computers and mobile phones are being used to store electricity for homes and businesses. They’re built to a much larger scale and can be bundled together.

Creating Better Power Storage

Creating better power storage is key to adopting more renewable fuels, so electricity generated from solar panels or wind farms can be used at night and when there’s no breeze blowing. The devices can also be used to provide back-up power during blackouts.

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The ‘Gigafactory’

Tesla Motors Inc., based in Palo Alto, Calif., makes electric cars, and is expanding into batteries for homes, businesses and even power utilities. Tesla is building a massive battery factory near Reno, Nev., that it calls the “gigafactory,” in partnership with Panasonic Corp.

A Growing Market

The energy-storage market is tiny, but growing. About 62 megawatts of batteries and other storage technologies were installed last year, up 40% from 2013, according to GTM Research. It’s expensive, but prices are falling as more people adopt the technology.

Subsidies and Costs

A solar-panel system with battery backup that cost $25,000 a couple years ago is expected to sell for as little as $10,000 in the next year or two. States eager to cut their air pollution are subsidizing the systems, which has helped batteries gain traction. Solar-battery systems also qualify for a 30% federal tax credit until it runs out at the end of 2016.

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