So, increasingly, we’ve got this whole renewable energy thing going on. But integrating all that new solar and wind power into the power grid remains a challenge, as grid systems require a steady flow of electricity, and renewable energy is, typically, intermittent. The solution? Better batteries—a cause that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has gotten behind with the announcement the launch of a new Energy Innovation Hub focused on advanced research on batteries and energy storage.
The Batteries and Energy Storage Hub—which will be funded with an investment of up to $120 million over the next five years, $20 million in fiscal year 2012—will focus on accelerating the research and development of electrochemical energy storage for the transportation sector as well as the electric grid. The interdisciplinary research and development the DOE plans on funding through this Energy Innovation Hub will help to advance cutting-edge energy storage and battery technologies with the potential to improve the reliability and the efficiency of the electrical grid by better integrating renewable energy technologies, and for use in electric and hybrid vehicles.
Energy Innovation Hubs like this are designed to bring together teams of scientists and engineers across different disciplines to rapidly accelerate scientific discoveries, shortening the path from the lab to commercial deployment of critical energy technologies. These hubs are part of the Obama administration’s approach to clean energy research aimed at achieving breakthroughs in important energy technologies, with a larger eye on growing the clean energy economy.
The goal of the Batteries and Energy Storage Hub will be to deliver research leading to “revolutionary new technologies,” according to Chu, advancing the current understanding and underlying science around energy storage by developing scientific approaches based on new materials, devices, systems and strategies for transportation and utility-scale storage.
Universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations, and private firms focused on “radically new approaches” to electrochemical storage that overcome current manufacturing limitations, reducing complexity and cost, are encouraged to submit Letters of Inquiry by March 1, 2012, with full applications due on May 31, 2012. Funding decisions are expected to be made this summer, with priority given to collaborative projects. More information is available online.