Last week, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-WA, joined with science leaders to help break ground on a $75 million facility that will boost clean energy adoption and make the nation’s power grid more resilient, secure and flexible.
Speaking at the dedication ceremony at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Cantwell said “The Grid Storage Launchpad represents a huge investment in PNNL, the Tri Cities, the State of Washington and the future of our nation. The Launchpad will help us make America’s grid more reliable and resilient, lead the world in inventing and exporting clean energy products, and accelerate the transition to a cleaner energy system. PNNL has my continued support as it strives to make the Launchpad the world’s premier energy storage research center.”
“Next-generation energy storage is foundational to our nation’s ambitious energy goals, serving as the bridge between renewable energy sources and a resilient power grid,” added PNNL Director Steven Ashby. “At the Grid Storage Launchpad, nationally renowned researchers from PNNL and across the country will forge fundamental discoveries and applied innovations critical to realizing our clean energy future.”
At the GSL, scientists will validate and test new grid storage technologies—from basic materials and components to prototype devices—under realistic operating conditions. It will promote rigorous grid performance requirements for all stages of technology development and accelerate the development of innovative technologies.
“The Grid Storage Launchpad facility will boost clean energy adaptation and accelerate the development and deployment of long-duration, low-cost grid energy storage,” said Gil Bindewald, acting principal deputy assistant secretary at DOE’s Office of Electricity, which provided funding for the GSL. “Energy storage is a critical step on the path to getting more renewable power on the system, supporting a growing fleet of electric vehicles, making our grid more reliable and securing our clean energy future. Breakthroughs at this exciting facility will help provide clean, affordable, and resilient energy to everyone, everywhere.”
The GSL supports DOE’s Energy Storage Grand Challenge, which draws on the extensive research capabilities of the DOE national laboratories, universities and industry to accelerate the development of energy storage technologies. The ESGC also helps sustain American global leadership in the creation of energy storage technologies while providing for a secure domestic manufacturing supply chain.
DOE’s Office of Electricity selected PNNL as the site for the GSL in August 2019, noting PNNL’s extensive work in grid energy storage and power grid modernization, as well as its research on improving battery performance, reliability and safety.
The 86,000-square-foot facility will include space for 35 research laboratories and offices for approximately 105 staff representing a breadth of scientific disciplines. It will include testing chambers to assess prototypes and new grid energy storage technologies up to 100 kilowatts under realistic operating conditions. A laboratory dedicated to understanding fundamental material properties of storage technologies will also be included.
A visualization laboratory with multimedia displays will allow scientists to analyze the role of energy storage in future grid scenarios and to develop new design criteria. The GSL will have flexible workstations and collaboration spaces, including dedicated space for researchers to develop storage technologies originating from the U.S. research and development community.
In addition to federal funding, the state of Washington contributed $8.3 million from the Clean Energy Fund for advanced research instruments that will bring about new insights into the behavior of battery materials in real time. With the funding, PNNL purchased two state-of-the-art Thermo Fisher electron microscopes and a Thermo Fisher spectrometer that will allow researchers to view changes to battery materials as they charge and discharge.
The Houston-based firms of Harvey-Cleary Builders and Kirksey Architecture were awarded the contract to design and build the GSL last April. The partnership also served as the design-build team for the Energy Sciences Center, a $90 million research facility that opened on the PNNL-Richland campus late last year.
The GSL is expected to be ready for occupancy as soon as 2023.
Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science