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Quick Take: Technically speaking, energy storage still hasn't hit the tipping point. It is still too expensive for widespread adoption at grid scale. Yet more and more policymakers are pushing for it anyway, as I explained recently in The 4 reasons grid-scale energy storage is the Next Big Thing.
Now the U.S. Department of Energy has jumped on the "storage now" bandwagon via a report called simply Grid Energy Storage (click to download the PDF). The report sets out specific action to improve energy storage prospects. I was happy to see that it discussed not just the technology issues, but also the need to modify current regulations, which -- in some states -- stymie the deployment of storage at scale.
"The report reinforces our view that storage is an essential component to a more resilient, reliable, and balanced energy grid," said Darrell Hayslip, Chairman of the Electricity Storage Association. "ESA believes that it is not a matter of whether storage will be deployed; it is a matter of how fast that occurs. Given the focus indicated in this report, DOE is poised to assist in those efforts." - By Jesse Berst
WASHINGTON – As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to a cleaner, more secure energy future, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz today released the Energy Department’s Grid Energy Storage report to the members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The report was commissioned at the request of Senator Ron Wyden, Committee Chairman. The report identifies the benefits of grid energy storage, the challenges that must be addressed to enable broader use, and the efforts of the Energy Department, in conjunction with industry and other government organizations, to meet those challenges.
“Energy storage is a vital component of a more resilient, reliable and efficient electric grid,” said Secretary Moniz. “We must continue developing innovative energy storage technologies and finding new ways to ensure wider adoption to help move the nation closer to the grid of the future.”
The report identifies four challenges that must be addressed to enable energy storage: the development of cost-effective energy storage technologies, validated reliability and safety, an equitable regulatory environment, and industry acceptance. The need for energy storage in the electric grid is increasing as a result of the growing use of renewable power generation, which varies with wind and solar conditions, and increasing frequency of severe weather caused by climate change. The grid’s evolution toward more distributed energy systems and the incorporation of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids also contributes to the growing interest in grid storage.
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“Developing and deploying energy storage opens the door to adding more renewable power to the grid, which is essential to the fight against climate change,” Wyden said. “Energy storage will also help lower consumer costs by saving low-cost power for peak times and making renewable energy available when it’s needed the most, not just when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. I’m looking forward to working with Secretary Moniz to find ways to implement the DOE’s recommendations to make energy storage an integral part of our country’s electricity grid.”
The storage report, developed by the Energy Department with input from industry, academia, and government stakeholders, identifies efforts to address each of the four key challenges. Those efforts include integrated activities by the Department’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, Office of Science, Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Some of the key strategic actions are described below:
- Cost-competitive energy storage technology can be achieved through research, resolving economic and performance barriers, and creating analytical tools for design, manufacturing, innovation and deployment.
- The reliability and safety of energy storage technologies can be validated through research and development, creation of standard testing protocols, independent testing against utility requirements, and documenting the performance of installed systems.
- Establishing an equitable regulatory environment is possible by conducting public-private evaluations of grid benefits, exploring technology-neutral mechanisms for monetizing grid services, and developing industry and regulatory agency-accepted standards for siting, grid integration, procurement and performance evaluation.
- Industry acceptance can be achieved through field trials and demonstrations and use of industry-accepted planning and operational tools to incorporate storage onto the grid.
Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.