Ben Shrager
Ben Shrager is a Storage Strategy Engineer, Office of Electricity, Department of Energy
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The world’s energy infrastructure faces increased pressure to decarbonize as global temperatures continue to rise. As leaders from around the world meet this week at the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai—commonly referred to as COP28—there is opportunity for representatives to discuss and negotiate global efforts to address climate change. Addressing the effects of climate change is a top priority of the U.S. Department of Energy and us in the Office of Electricity. Specifically, our Energy Storage Division makes strategic investments in research and development (R&D) for grid-scale energy storage technologies which help to position America’s electricity grid on a path toward a sustainable, resilient, and renewable future. Examples of initiatives this year include funding opportunities for demonstration and validation of long-duration energy storage technology, opportunities to tackle pre-competitive energy storage R&D barriers, and technical strategy reports summarizing and analyzing the results of innovative energy storage innovations.

Many renewable resources, like solar, are intermittent. Long-duration energy storage technology increases the amount of stored energy and operational duration in the system, while targeted research can reduce storage technology costs and ensure long-term reliability. In August 2023, at the Energy Storage Grand Challenge Summit, our office announced the “Energy Storage Demonstration and Validation” funding opportunity announcement where we will select three demonstrations of different energy storage technologies to support the Rapid Operational Validation Initiative (ROVI). These demonstrations will validate the performance of new long-duration storage technologies and their ability to provide benefits to end users, as well as help emerging energy storage companies accelerate their innovations to market. ROVI will employ innovative data science methods such as artificial intelligence and machine learning that will leverage large sets of energy storage performance data at different scales to facilitate generating lifetime performance predictions for new technologies with minimal real-time testing required.

A second energy storage funding opportunity was announced at the August 2023 Summit. This opportunity is designed to tackle pre-competitive energy storage research and development barriers to foster an environment conducive to innovation and collaboration. The objective of this opportunity is to enable long-duration energy storage technology innovations through durable research partnerships. The technologies selected as the focus of this research must have a pathway to cost-effective, grid-scale, long-duration energy storage. Combined, both funding opportunities will 'supercharge' the future of energy storage and enable cost-effective solutions for all Americans. These opportunities represent a bold leap towards the realization of advanced long-duration storage capabilities.

Also this year, our office released ten “Long Duration Storage Shot Technology Strategy Assessments,” documents that detail new, exciting energy storage technology innovations that will help enable grid decarbonization and resilience. These technical reports summarize and analyze the results from the Storage Innovation 2030 stakeholder engagement process, including Storage Innovations Flight Paths and Framework, as detailed in the Methodology report. These reports present opportunities to explore promising research, development, and demonstration pathways to substantially lower the costs of long-duration energy storage. These reports cover a wide breadth of topics, including the history of thermal energy storage that dates to the 19th century, the massive capability of pumped storage hydropower deployed in the 20th century, and the dominance of lithium-ion batteries in new grid storage deployments today. These reports are forward-looking, evaluating these technologies and seven others by analyzing the impact of present-day R&D activities on future costs. All ten technology strategy assessments are available on our office’s website.

Successful public research and development investments have created pathways toward substantial decarbonization, but deployment is not meeting its technical potential. At COP28, the United States will discuss its efforts to support game-changing new ways to commercialize technologies that create an environment for the private sector to act as a force multiplier—turning billions in public investment into trillions of private sector investment for the clean energy transition. Addressing the impacts of climate change remains a top priority for us in the Office of Electricity as the nation's energy infrastructure faces mounting pressure from wildfires, drought, and increased electricity demand. Innovative energy storage solutions are key in this fight.