Energy Storage

Ten-Year Goal
Develop next-generation energy storage technologies and manufacturing processes to sustain U.S. leadership in energy storage science and technology and meet U.S. market demand in transportation and long-duration stationary applications.

Graphic: Energy Storage Across Time & Length Scales

The Challenge

Energy storage iconEnergy Storage includes a broad range of technologies that can operate across various time and length scales, and which can transform nearly every aspect of society, from transportation to communication to electricity delivery and domestic security. Demand for simultaneously sustainable, affordable, and resilient sources of power are driving dramatic shifts throughout the electricity sector; shifting away from conventional fossil-fuel fired generation and toward wind and solar photovoltaics. However, the mismatch in timing between when solar and wind resources produce electricity and when consumers use that electricity presents a barrier to their further deployment.

 Scientists working on energy storage

Research Summary

ETA’s vision is to develop new, commercially ready technologies that can economically address the need for energy storage to electrify the transportation sector and provide sustainable, resilient electricity to the grid. This initiative will examine market use cases for these technologies, establishing a techno-economic pathway to commercialization and deployment within the grid infrastructure. It combines the area’s long-standing expertise in developing novel chemical, electrochemical, and thermal technologies with policy analysis that can demonstrate the economic use case for these new technologies to relevant stakeholders.

Underlying the initiative is the realization that no economically viable, widely deployable solution for long-duration storage currently exists. The largest source of stationary energy storage in the power system is, by far, from pumped hydro storage, largely due to investments made in the 1970s and 1980s. Almost no new pumped hydro capacity has been developed in the United States in the past two decades due to the difficulty of siting, permitting, and financing this technology. Other economical methods of storage, such as compressed air energy storage, suffer from similar limitations in siting and geographic availability. Li-ion batteries are the current leading storage technology for grid deployments, but they have disadvantages preventing them from being a sustainable technology of choice. What is needed is a long-duration storage technology that can be deployed anywhere, yet maintains or improves upon the low cost of these historical technologies that take advantage of geographic features.

For more details on this initiative, take a look at ETA's 2021 Strategic Plan.

Milestones

Short-Term (six months - two years)

  • Develop a techno-economic analysis framework for evaluating the viability of potential new advanced storage technologies.
  • Conduct computer modeling of promising concepts that can be targeted for initial experimentation. • Demonstrate bench-scale prototypes for short-, mid-, and long-duration storage that demonstrate promise for further large-scale investigation.
  • Integrate efforts with the national Energy Storage Grand Challenge (ESGC) to obtain further support for concepts passing the bench-scale pipeline.

Within a two-year time frame, we will identify and develop prototypes of promising energy storage technologies that can be integrated into efforts related to the ESGC.

Medium Term (three - five years)

  • Support a research program that establishes the myriad ways in which new advanced energy storage system may support future electricity supply and demand. This will take into account factors such as mixed short- and long-duration usage that may be possible with certain technologies, as well as various future scenarios for sources of energy supply.
  • Investigate topics such as charge-discharge performance, longevity, degradation, safety, and overall materials lifecycle (e.g., recyclability) of battery systems.
  • Begin transitioning energy storage technologies developed in the early years toward commercialization through programs such as Cyclotron Road and the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E).

Within a five-year time frame, we will develop a research program that identifies how energy storage technologies’ enable restructuring of key parts of the electric grid and facilitates energy storage technologies’ widespread commercialization.

Long Term (five years and beyond) 

  • Establish a clear methodology and software implementation for stakeholders to better understand the use cases and economic value of energy storage systems under highly specific scenarios, as well as characteristics of such systems as they approach end of life.
  • Commercialize Berkeley Lab technology prototypes and initial deployments in the field.
  • Establish an Energy Storage Hub for technologies spanning time and length scales.

Within a ten-year time frame, we will establish an Energy Storage Hub for developing cost-competitive energy storage technologies that increase renewable grid penetration and grid resilience.

 

Partners

This initiative will leverage ETA’s unique capabilities to address applied questions from a fundamental science perspective to establish synergies with other areas within Berkeley Lab (e.g., Computing Sciences and Energy Sciences) and to build on existing robust partnerships with industry.