August 27, 2011 - World's Biggest Battery Plugged In

 – 2003

It can get cold in Fairbanks, Alaska. Real cold!

Because a power failure can be so dangerous in an isolated city that experiences extreme weather, Fairbanks ordered a 2,000-square-meter battery that weighs 1,300 metric tonnes. (In U.S. terms, that is more than 21 thousand square feet and more than 1,400 tons.)

On this day in 2003 the city of Fairbanks installed the huge battery in a warehouse outside of town and then plugged it in to the city's electrical system. In the case of a power failure, the battery should kick on and provide power for up to 12,000 residents for up to seven minutes—long enough to start up diesel generators to restore power.

In Fairbanks's low winter temperatures, water pipes could freeze entirely in just two hours. So it is crucial to keep the power on! But when I checked Wikipedia to see how many people live in Fairbanks, it listed 35,000 residents, not 12,000! Who gets the emergency power?

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