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California to Test Whether Big Batteries Can Stop Summer Blackouts

The state is set to become a global test case in using batteries to back up wind and solar power

AES Corp. in January commissioned a 100-megawatt battery installation in Long Beach, California, using Fluence batteries.

AES Corp. in January commissioned a 100-megawatt battery installation in Long Beach, California, using Fluence batteries.

Photographer: Bing Guan/Bloomberg
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With summer’s heat approaching, California’s plan for avoiding a repeat of last year’s blackouts hinges on a humble savior – the battery.

Giant versions of the same technology that powers smart phones and cars are being plugged into the state’s electrical grid at breakneck speed, with California set to add more battery capacity this year than all of China, according to BloombergNEF.