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Charting the Future of Energy Storage

August 7, 2013 - 2:53pm


Watch the video above to learn how Urban Electric Power is creating a market for energy storage technology. | Video by Matty Greene, Energy Department.

In President Obama’s first four years in office, U.S. electricity generation from wind and solar power has more than doubled, and as Secretary Moniz highlighted yesterday, wind energy is now the fastest growing source of power in America. As we continue to incorporate more renewable energy into the grid, technologies that store energy like batteries will be key to providing a continuous flow of clean energy even when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun doesn’t shine.

Thanks to investments from the Energy Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), our capacity to store energy at grid-scale might be here sooner than we think. Through its Grid-Scale Rampable Intermittent Dispatchable Storage (GRIDS) program, ARPA-E funded projects to develop innovative new energy storage technologies that are potentially cost-competitive with pumped hydropower -- the largest-capacity form of grid-scale energy storage available today -- but can be widely implemented at any location across the power grid. As the GRIDS projects come to an end, we are seeing technologies that have real potential in enabling the increased use of renewable electricity generation while maintaining high reliability in electric supply.

For instance, researchers at the City University of New York (CUNY) Energy Institute are developing a zinc-manganese dioxide battery for grid-scale storage -- essentially a larger, rechargeable version of the disposable alkaline batteries we use in our daily lives. Initial tests show that it can be charged and discharged more than 2,000 times, and the battery modules can ultimately be scaled up and stacked to store at least one megawatt of power. Last May, the CUNY Energy Institute researchers formed Urban Electric Power to take the battery from the lab to the market. Urban Electric Power is working to reduce battery costs to meet ARPA-E’s target of less than $100 per kilowatt-hours, a price that opens up the growing market for grid-scale energy storage from wind and solar as well as energy management in buildings.

For more on innovative grid-scale energy storage technologies, visit