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Grid, Energy Storage Events Showcase Regional Collaborations

April 2015
Grid, Energy Storage Events Showcase Regional Collaborations
Pat Hoffman, DOE Assistant Secretary of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, speaks to a gathering at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Pullman, Wash., in April 2015.
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The Pacific Northwest's commitment to grid modernization and energy storage drew federal and regional advocates to eastern Washington this spring for back-to-back events highlighting research partnerships and successes.

Patricia Hoffman, DOE Assistant Secretary of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE), was joined by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA 5th District), and PNNL Laboratory Director Steven Ashby on April 1 at the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project Symposium in Spokane. The following day, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee and Dr. Imre Gyuk, DOE-OE Energy Storage Program Manager, joined the delegation in Pullman for the Washington State University Energy Summit and the launch of Avista Corp.'s Energy Storage Project

In addition to improving renewables integration and grid reliability, advances in energy storage can support increased use of electrically powered transportation methods to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  • The Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project Symposium highlighted outcomes of the five-year, $178 million project, led by a Battelle team at PNNL. The project tested transactive control at a broad scale by implementing the concept among 11 utilities across five states and involving 60,000 metered customers. In addition to the federal and state dignitaries, symposium speakers included Bonneville Power Administration Administrator Elliot Mainzer and PNNL Associate Laboratory Director Jud Virden, who introduced Dr. Ashby on his first day as Laboratory Director. Approximately 130 project participants and stakeholders attended the event, coordinated by project director Ron Melton.
  • At the WSU Energy Summit on April 2, Hoffman, Cantwell and McMorris Rodgers—along with Inslee, Gyuk, regional utility leaders, and WSU President Elson S. Floyd—each spoke about the importance of grid energy storage, including ongoing research and commercialization. WSU faculty gave technical presentations, along with PNNL Energy and Environment Directorate's Virden, Carl Imhoff, Landis Kannberg, and Vince Sprenkle.

The Energy Summit included a field trip by bus to nearby Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories Inc., where the federal and state dignitaries "flipped the switch" on Avista Corp.’s installation of a 1MW, 3.2MWh, vanadium redox flow battery. PNNL developed the battery technology, which was licensed in 2012 by researchers Gary Yang and Liyu Li. They formed the company UniEnergy Technologies with $14.3 million in matching grants from Washington state's Clean Energy Fund. News coverage of the full-scale battery project included The New York Times and The Seattle Times.

"The innovation is there," Hoffman said. "It's going to require partnership to pull it all together."

  • Hoffman concluded her whirlwind trip with a visit to PNNL in Richland on April 3. The assistant secretary received briefings on new controls, power electronics, and buildings operations capabilities, as well as PNNL's efforts toward industry adoption of grid operations and management tools through the Future Power Grid Initiative. She also toured several PNNL facilities, including the under-construction Systems Engineering Laboratory for integrated grid and buildings research, and the Physical Sciences Laboratory where battery research takes place.

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