Senate Seeks to Revolutionize the Future of Energy Storage

Jun 14, 2019

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee recently held a hearing to examine “Expanded Deployment of Grid-Scale Energy Storage.” Witnesses included Dr. George Crabtree, Director of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research at the Argonne National Laboratory, Ben Fowke, Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of Xcel Energy Inc; and Kiran Kumaraswamy, Vice President of Market Applications at Fluence. The hearing sought to identify the technologies revolutionizing the future of energy storage, as well as the challenges that stand in the way of bringing them to market.

A common theme throughout the hearing was the need for energy storage. Mr. Fowke noted in his remarks that many sources of clean energy such as wind and solar, are intermittent and only generate energy when the wind blows or the sun is out. Consequently it is important to have ways to store this energy to be used when there is a need for it, not just when it is optimally generated.  This also raises the issue of infrastructure. As Kiran Kumaraswamy, Vice President of Market Applications at Fluence noted, “Even as countries around the world are transitioning from centralized power systems to decentralized and renewable power, they face significant challenges, often due to aging infrastructure. Bringing increasing amounts of solar and wind power onto the grid means planning for a system in which high levels of power quality are still essential but variability is the norm.”

Dr. Crabtree noted that energy storage touches on all sectors of the electric grid, which include electricity generation, transmission and distribution. But, for the electric grid to continue to meet the energy demands of today, there need to be significant investments in both the research and development of early stage energy deployments, as well as energy storage infrastructure. To do this there needs to be stronger partnerships between the public and private sectors to ensure adequate resources and knowledge sharing takes place. “This combination of high-risk, high-reward public sector research enabling innovative private sector development and deployment is essential to the transformation of the electricity grid to its fully modern form.”

To view an archived webcast of the full briefing, click here: https://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2019/6/hearing-to-examine-expanded-deployment-of-grid-scale-energy-storage