Photo by Ian Roberts (Borgendorf), Creative Commons
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

DOE Launches $75 Million Grid Energy Storage Research Facility

March 17, 2021
Grid storage launchpad at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to accelerate energy storage innovation, boost clean energy adaptation and grid resilience

The U.S. Department of Energy began design and construction of the Grid Storage Launchpad (GSL), a $75 million facility located at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington that will boost clean energy adaptation and accelerate the development and deployment of long-duration, low-cost grid energy storage.

“The Grid Storage Launchpad facility will bring together researchers and industry from around the country to modernize and add flexibility to the power grid, advance storage technologies, and boost use of clean energy,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Deploying new grid technologies means we can get more renewable power on the system, support a growing fleet of electric vehicles, make our grid more reliable and resilient, and secure our clean energy future.”

The planned facility will include 30 research laboratories, some of which will be testing chambers capable of assessing prototypes and new grid energy storage technologies under real world grid operating conditions. The GSL will include flexible workstations and collaboration spaces, including Fellowship Labs, which will provide dedicated space for researchers to incubate storage technologies originating from the U.S. research and development community.

The GSL will focus on three outcomes to advance grid energy storage development:

  • Collaboration: Bringing DOE, multidisciplinary researchers, and industry together at the facility will lower the barriers to innovation and deployment of grid-scale energy storage.
  • Validation: The facility will enable independent testing of next generation grid energy storage materials and systems under realistic grid operating conditions.
  • Acceleration: From benchtop to systems, the facility will de-risk and speed the development of new technologies by propagating rigorous performance requirements.

During this new phase of development, PNNL will select a design and construction contractor and begin working toward the start of construction, which could begin late this year. The building is expected to be operational and ready for occupancy by 2025.

“It took 40 years to get to the current state of today’s lithium-ion battery technology, but we need to move much faster to develop the long-duration, low-cost batteries needed to meet the significant challenges of decarbonizing the energy system,” said PNNL Director Steven Ashby. “The GSL will speed up the process considerably by doing the work needed to develop and deploy new grid storage technologies.”

“I’m so glad to see the Department of Energy making this critical investment in renewable energy innovation in Washington state,” said Senator Patty Murray. “The Grid Storage Launchpad will help PNNL continue to lead the way on clean energy storage and adaptation for decades to come, and as a longtime supporter of this project and a voice for Washington state in the Senate, I’m going to continue working to ensure PNNL has the resources and support it needs to continue its critical work towards building a brighter future.”

“Accelerating the development of energy storage technologies is fundamental to the transition to a cleaner and more diverse electricity grid,” said Senator Maria Cantwell. “By manufacturing and deploying these technologies here at home we will reduce energy costs, create jobs, and help keep the lights on during extreme weather emergencies. Washington is well positioned to lead the nation in advancing energy storage technologies, so I’m pleased that Energy Secretary Granholm is today affirming our nation will continue to harness the talents and innovation of the leading scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory with this announcement.”

“The Grid Storage Launchpad will play a pivotal role in improving our nation’s energy grid, and Central Washington scientists and researchers are leading the way,” said Representative Dan Newhouse. “I am proud to play a small role in securing the funds for this next-generation clean energy project and am delighted PNNL’s experts will continue serving on the front lines of revolutionizing our grid security and paving the path toward continued American energy independence, resilience, and dominance.”

“Developing low-cost, long-duration energy storage is a critical component to increasing the efficiency and security of our nation’s electrical grid,” said Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler. “It’s welcome news that DOE is moving forward on the design and construction of the Grid Storage Launchpad right here in Washington state, which will further cement our region’s leadership in energy storage development. With two of my legislative solutions now signed into law - the Better Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Act and the Grid Modernization Research and Development Act - this Launchpad and PNNL’s dedicated team of scientists will have the tools they need to develop and deploy grid storage technologies, leading to a more secure energy future for our region and across the country.”

In addition to federal funding, the Washington State Department of Commerce has committed $8.3 million for advanced research equipment and specialized instrumentation that will provide unparalleled insights into the behavior of battery materials during operation.

The state’s Department of Commerce has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with DOE’s Office of Electricity to promote partnerships to advance grid energy storage technologies, support the energy storage innovation ecosystem, and share best practices with other states. This collaboration builds upon a previous MOU signed in 2016 that focused on grid modernization, as well as ongoing work with PNNL through the 2019 Grid Modernization Lab Call.

The GSL also supports DOE’s Energy Storage Grand Challenge, which draws on the extensive research capabilities of the DOE National Laboratories, universities, and industry to accelerate the development of energy-storage technologies and sustain American global leadership in the energy storage technologies of the future and a secure domestic manufacturing supply chain.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of T&D World, create an account today!