They say everything’s bigger in Texas. Apparently that’s true for batteries, too. Presidio, Texas, recently built a giant sodium sulfur battery that’s powerful enough to provide energy for the entire town. Not only will the battery serve as a back-up source of power, other utilities can use similar batteries to store energy generated by renewables.

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BOB, short for “Big-Old Battery,” began charging up this week. The giant sodium sulfur powerhouse, which is literally the size of a house, can store four megawatts of power for up to eight hours. Before BOB came online, a single, 60-year-old transmission line was the only thing connecting Presidio to the grid. The town frequently experienced power outages. BOB serves as a much-needed back-up plan, and it holds enough power to generate electricity for the whole town.

BOB is the first sodium sulfur battery in Texas and the biggest one in existence in the US. Electric Transmission Texas ponied up $25 million to build the battery, and will add $60 million to build a second transmission line by 2012.

Batteries like BOB are useful for towns like Presidio, but they can also be used by utilities themselves. In America’s archaic grid system, electricity generation and usage must occur simultaneously, a huge problem for renewables like wind and solar, which generate power sporadically. Bringing on giant batteries to store power can ensure more renewables are brought online before a smart grid can be put in place.

Via Popular Science