US Energy Department report examines storage

The U.S. Energy Department last week released its Grid Energy Storage report last week outlining identifying the main challenges that must be overcome in order to enable the broader use of storage solutions.

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 Energy Secretary Ernest 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 the Energy Department says 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 growing use of renewable power generation, which varies with wind and solar conditions, and increasing frequency of severe weather caused by climate change has led to the increasing need for energy storage in the electric grid, according to the report. The grid’s evolution toward more distributed energy systems and the incorporation of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids is also contributing to the growing interest in grid storage.

According to estimates, the United States will need somewhere between 4 and 5 tera kilowatt-hours of electricity annually by 2050.

"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," said Senator Ron Wyden, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chairman, who commissioned the report.

"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:

  • 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.