The United States Energy Department (DOE) is earmarking US$30 million in fresh awards and investment prospects for solutions to store energy, as the country aims to substantially lower the expense of energy storage mechanisms. This financial support, overseen by the DOE’s Electricity Office (OE), will be divided into two equal portions of US$15 million apiece. One part will be dedicated to backing studies to enhance the dependability of long-duration energy storage (LDES), systems capable of supplying energy for a minimum of ten hours, and will be incorporated into the OE’s Rapid Operational Validation Initiative, a scheme to rapidly allocate funds to novel energy storage systems. Earlier in March, the initiative pledged US$2 million to six national DOE labs to assist in their investigations, and the fresh US$15 million might contribute to hastening research on battery storage mechanisms. The remaining portion of the DOE’s allocation will be devoted to aiding what the DOE refers to as “pre-competitive” systems, those in the preliminary phase of research and development, and not yet prepared for market rollout.
A boost in storage capabilities
“These investment possibilities will ‘boost’ the upcoming era of energy conservation and pave the way for affordable solutions to fulfill the electric requirements of all Americans,” remarked Gene Rodrigues, the deputy secretary for electricity within the OE. “This marks the conclusion of thorough discussions with stakeholders over the previous twelve months, in conjunction with the dedicated efforts of our energy conservation division, which is spearheading the advancement of the most cutting-edge extended-duration storage accessible.”
Even though the DOE refrained from naming the specific businesses or endeavors that would benefit from the funding, these efforts will be directed towards the goals set for 2030 by the Energy Storage Grand Challenge (ESGC). This includes a series of aggressive objectives for the American energy conservation industry. Initiated in December 2020, the challenge’s goal is to slash the standardized cost of storage for LDES by 90% from 2020 to 2030, thereby lowering the cost of energy containment to a mere US$0.05/kWh. The ESGC also aims for a 44% decrease in the expenditure needed to create a battery pack for an electric vehicle capable of 300 miles within this timeframe, setting the cost of such a battery system at US$80/kWh.
Funds from the ESGC have contributed to various storage endeavors, such as the Grid Storage Launchpad, under construction by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Washington, using US$75 million of federal support. The department anticipates the launchpad to commence operation in the upcoming year and holds high hopes that the most recent allocation of funds will be employed for comparably high-reaching research and development initiatives. The ESGC has also allocated US$17.9 million to four companies – Largo Clean Energy, TreadStone Technologies, Quino Energy, and OTORO Energy – to cultivate novel research methodologies and manufacturing techniques within the energy conservation field.
Encouraging developments in American storage facilities
The DOE has unveiled these fresh financial support possibilities at the ESGC Summit located in Atlanta. It has also pointed out that the PNNL and Argonne National Laboratory will act as laboratory overseers for the ESGC undertaking for the coming two years. Both the DOE’s OE and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will contribute US$300,000 each to defray the expenses of the ESGC plan up until the conclusion of the fiscal year 2024. Various segments of the international commodities industry have warmly welcomed the new financial assistance, with the International Zinc Association (IZA) executive director Andrew Green expressing that his institution is “delighted” about the update.
“The IZA is elated by the DOE’s disclosure of substantial fresh investments in energy retention,” stated Green, emphasizing the escalating curiosity in zinc as an ingredient in battery retention systems. “We’re enthusiastic about the prospects zinc batteries present to this domain. We eagerly anticipate working together through the Zinc Battery Initiative to tackle these fresh endeavors.”
This information comes on the heels of remarkable surges in the capabilities of battery retention systems in the U.S. in the preceding years. Data from the Energy Information Administration reveal that the total accumulated capability of large-scale battery retention facilities in the U.S. rose from 149.6MW in 2012 to 8.8GW in 2022. The expansion pace is also escalating considerably, as the 2022 capability is nearly twice that of the preceding year, reaching 4.9GW. State financing will likely be pivotal in achieving some of the U.S.’s loftier energy retention goals, both in augmenting the capability of American retention facilities in operation and in cultivating technologies like LDES. This past November, the DOE proclaimed US$350 million in financial support specifically for LDES endeavors, as the administration seeks to foster originality in this field.