Energy Storage

EPRI Selected for Three Energy Storage Projects

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to lead three advanced energy storage projects. The projects will study innovative, non-battery-based bulk energy storage solutions integrated with fossil assets.

“Investing in research and development to improve energy storage is critical at this moment in time,” Neva Espinoza, vice president for Energy Supply and Low-Carbon Resources with EPRI, said in a statement issued to POWER. “Innovations in energy storage, along with advancements in alternative low-carbon fuels, will contribute to a grid that is both reliable and resilient. This is essential to reaching a cleaner energy future.”

The DOE awarded EPRI a total of $600,000 for the three projects. EPRI is collaborating with three major U.S. power generators and six additional industry organizations to carry out the study. The projects will explore:

  • A pilot-scale liquid salt combined cycle unit. The study will develop a design for the system to be integrated into a natural gas power plant and evaluate its costs and performance to potentially advance it closer to commercial deployment.
  • Sand thermal energy storage. The project will perform a feasibility study for integrating this storage technology into a coal power plant and to explore how this technology can work in conjunction with any fossil source, as well as nuclear, solar thermal, and electrical heating from renewables.
  • Crushed rock as a cost-effective medium. The project will perform a feasibility study for the integration of a pilot-scale crushed rock thermal energy storage system with a natural gas power plant. The pilot represents a next-to-last demonstration before the technology can be commercially ready.

On Dec. 21, the DOE released an “Energy Storage Grand Challenge Roadmap,” which is said to be the Department’s first comprehensive energy storage strategy. The Energy Storage Grand Challenge “seeks to create and sustain American leadership in energy storage.” In addition to concerted research efforts, the DOE says the Roadmap’s approach includes accelerating the transition of technologies from the lab to the marketplace, focusing on ways to competitively manufacture technologies at scale in the U.S., and ensuring secure supply chains to enable domestic manufacturing. The DOE’s goal is to develop and domestically manufacture energy storage technologies that can meet all U.S. market demands by 2030.

“Energy storage has an important role to play in our Nation’s energy future,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette said in a statement. “DOE worked closely with a wide range of stakeholders and partners to develop this actionable Roadmap to help bring promising energy storage technologies to market and position the United States as a global leader in energy storage solutions.”

EPRI’s work will undoubtedly help in that effort. In addition to the three projects announced on Monday, EPRI is also working with the DOE as part of its H2@Scale initiative. The program, which is being led by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, intends to bring stakeholders together to advance affordable hydrogen production, transport, storage, and use.

Specifically, EPRI’s research is expected to provide an understanding of how utility-scale long-duration energy storage and flexible load can be used to support the grid by providing balancing services, providing ancillary services, and reducing renewable curtailment from excess generation. Importantly, this will provide a more complete cost-benefit analysis for grid-integrated hydrogen technology deployment that will be used to understand the cost competitiveness of long-duration energy storage and flexible load resources. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Office of Nuclear Energy are also participating in this effort as part of a cooperative research and development agreement.

In addition to its energy storage work, EPRI has a broad research portfolio that includes work in nuclear generation; coal generation; natural gas generation; renewables, distributed energy, and end use; and transmission and distribution. Among its offerings are research on fuels and chemistry; materials management; plant performance; cybersecurity; flexibility; enabling technologies; asset management and optimization; and much more.

Aaron Larson is POWER’s executive editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine).

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