Big Board Alerts

September 24, 2023
Energy Department announces $325M for batteries that can store clean electricity longer

The Energy Department has announced a $325 million investment in new battery types that can help turn solar and wind energy into 24-hour power.

The funds will be distributed among 15 projects in 17 states and the Red Lake Nation, a Native American tribe based in Minnesota.

Batteries are increasingly being used to store surplus renewable energy so that it can be used later, during times when there is no sunlight or wind. The department says the projects will protect more communities from blackouts and make energy more reliable and affordable.

“Everywhere in the U.S. has issues with intermittent renewable energy … every day the sun sets and you have to be able to take the energy that you produced during the day and use that at nighttime,” said Christopher Rahn, professor of mechanical engineering at Pennsylvania State University.

The new funding is for “long-term” storage, meaning options that can last for longer than the four hours typical of lithium ion batteries.

Storage that can keep putting out energy from sundown to sun up, or for several overcast days at a time, is the fervent work of thousands of engineers around the world right now because it’s a serious way to address climate change, by allowing natural gas or coal-fired power plants to turn off.

“Long-duration battery storage is like a rainy-day savings account for energy storage,” said Jodie Lutkenhaus, professor of chemical engineering at Texas A&M University.

“As long as these batteries use Earth-abundant materials that are readily available, I do not see any drawbacks,” Lutkenhaus said, alluding to minerals that need to be mined, including lithium.

 

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