US wants big, revolutionary energy storage systems

Renewable energy places many challenges on electrical grid

Looking for a major new ways to harness wind, solar and other evolving renewable energy, the US Department of Energy today issued a call for advanced large-scale energy storage system technology.

The DOE said the goal of its solicitation is to identify and prove new concepts for applied research in materials chemistry, battery components, battery designs and any technologies that will lead to breakthroughs in grid energy storage.

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Such technology will be focused on novel materials, electrodes, electrolytes, membranes and other components, along with new concepts for ultra low cost, high efficiency and long lasting energy storage systems. Emphasis is placed on highly innovative research proposals in areas that have the potential to have strong impact on large-scale energy storage in the future, the DOE stated.

The DOE went on to say the variable and stochastic nature of renewable sources makes solar and wind power difficult to manage.  To effectively use the intermittent renewable energy and enable its delivery, large-scale electrical energy storage is required. For example, storage systems operating near an intermittent, renewable wind energy source can smooth out wind variability and, if of sufficient scale, store off peak wind energy, the DOE stated.  

Big energy storage is an effective tool to improve the reliability, stability, and efficiency of the envisioned electrical grid of the future.  This grid will be significantly impacted by new demands, such as plug-in electrical vehicles, increased use of renewable energies, and smart grid controls. Large scale storage technology could shave the peaks from a user or utility load profile, increase asset utilization and delay utility upgrades, decrease fossil fuel use and provide high levels of power quality, while increasing grid stability. In addition, distributed energy storage near load centers can reduce congestion on both the distribution and transmission systems, the DOE stated. 

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