Energy storage news: 18.12.13

US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has released a report summarising the technical and regulatory grid energy storage landscape, indicating where support from congress is needed and detailing four major challenges to adoption. Photo credit: Notrees Wind Energy Storage Project, US Department of Energy

A new US DoE report summarises the technical and regulatory grid energy storage landscape, indicates support needed from congress and details four major challenges to adoption. Photo: Notrees Wind Storage Project, US Department of Energy

Here are the most important energy storage news stories from our Twitter feed over the last seven days.

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IESDB: a priceless resource

According to the International Energy Storage Database – IESDB, pumped hydro represents 96% of recorded global energy storage capacity. Photo credit: Raccoon Mountain Pumped Storage Plant, Tennessee Valley Authority

According to the IESDB – International Energy Storage Database – pumped hydro represents 96% of recorded global energy storage capacity. Photo credit: Raccoon Mountain Pumped Storage Plant, Tennessee Valley Authority

Mike Stone speaks to Cedric Christensen, director of operations and development at Strategen Consulting, the organisation responsible for the upkeep and development of the International Energy Storage Database (IESDB) portal.

One of the many exciting aspects of energy storage is just how new the industry is. But it’s this very novelty that leads to a lot of hype, flim-flam and plain old-fashioned snake-oil salesmanship. Getting trustworthy info on technologies, techniques and markets that barely existed a decade ago can be frustrating, and the sector’s 10-a-penny forecasts, which usually cost a lot more than that, are sensibly to be taken with a boulder of salt.

Which begs the question: where to dig for hard facts? One of the most impressive mines of useful information for researchers, investors and enthusiasts alike is the US Department of Energy (DoE) International Energy Storage Database.
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Electricity storage guide available

Sandia National Laboratories

Photo credit: Sandia National Laboratories

Sandia National Laboratories has released an updated handbook on energy storage. The book was created in collaboration with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and was funded by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.
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ARPA-E in $30m research push

US Energy Secretary, Dr. Ernest Moniz, focuses on energy storage in the same week that he announces plans to dramatically restructure the Department of Energy.

Dr. Ernest Moniz focuses on energy storage in the same week that he announced plans to dramatically restructure his department. Photo credit: Sarah Gerrity, Department of Energy

The US Department of Energy has announced that up to USD$30m from the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) will be made available to develop technologies that deliver cost-effective solar energy when the sun is not shining. A programme entitled Full-Spectrum Optimized Conversion and Utilization of Sunlight (FOCUS) seeks to develop hybrid solar energy converters and energy storage systems.
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US playing catch-up on hydrogen

NREL employees get a chance to test drive one of the Toyota Highlander fuel cell hybrid vehicles

NREL employees get a chance to test drive one of the Toyota Highlander fuel cell hybrid vehicles at the Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle Ride and Drive Event at the NREL Education Center as part of Earth Week festivities at NREL. Photo credit: Dennis Schroeder / NREL

Not normally known for its “America last” stance, Forbes magazine has recently run an article that implies the US, or rather the Obama administration, has missed a trick in dismissing hydrogen as an energy storage medium.

The catalyst for this was the new Toyota fuel-cell hybrid
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DoE puts energy storage on the map

If you haven’t done so already, we strongly suggest you check out the US Department of Energy International Energy Storage Database. Currently available as a beta version (which runs scripts a little slow, according to our Mac) this interactive tool allows you to search the planet for large-scale energy storage projects.

Once located, the database supplies a panoply of facts and stats and allows you to export info as PDFs or Excel spreadsheets. And if you can’t find your own, latest grid-scale project, simply upload it yourself. As writers and researchers, we think this is an absolute goldmine. And as writers and researchers with pressing deadlines, we haven’t had time to really put it through its paces.

So why don’t you give it a go yourself and let us know what you think?

ARPA-E aims to reduce EV cost by two-thirds

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) has issued a funding opportunity announcement (DE-FOA-0000869) for about USD$20 million to develop electrochemical energy storage technologies that will improve electric vehicle driving range, cost and reliability.

The cleverly-named Robust Affordable Next Generation EV-Storage (RANGE) programme’s goal is to enable a threefold increase in electric vehicle range from the current 80 miles to a future 240 miles per charge, on average. At the same time, developments should be aimed at reducing the cost of a vehicle to around $30,000.

If successful, these vehicles will provide near cost and range parity to gasoline-powered versions, say ARPA-E, which would help accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in the US and elsewhere.

US ups spending on energy storage

Steven Chu, President Obama’s Energy Secretary, has been making the case for a modest 2.3% increase in the renewables investment, reports Renewables Biz. This would bring the total spend to USD$27 billion, of which $60 million has been earmarked for researching and expanding the uses of energy storage systems. The money would be in addition to $185 million given to 16 different storage projects via the 2009 stimulus plan.

Is this sort of spending a good deal for the US taxpayer? Although not directly related to energy storage, some Department of Energy figures, as reported in GreenTech Media, suggest it is; the Government says every tax dollar invested in solar projects attracts 20 more in private money. If true, then surely this is the sort of market distortion most of us can live with.