On June 28, 2019, Senator Angus King (I-ME) introduced a bill that would require the Department of Energy (DOE) to establish an initiative to encourage the development of long-duration energy storage technologies. Senators McSally (R-AZ) and Heinrich (D-NM) co-sponsored the bill.
The focus of the bill--long-term energy storage--is an important building block for a decarbonized electric power grid. As renewable energy sources such as solar and wind provide an increasing share of our power, energy storage will be needed to store power for those times when they are not available. Currently, energy storage facilities are capable of storing several hours worth of electricity, but are not yet capable of storing several days, weeks, or even a season's worth of electric energy, which experts say will be needed. This bill aims to encourage research and development that would fill that gap.
According to the bill's sponsors, it was also driven by national security concerns: Long-duration energy storage, they say, "will ... bolster our national security by reducing the need for our military to transport flammable liquid fuels."
Specifically, the bill directs the Director of the Advanced Reserarch Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) within DOE to establish a demonstration initiative to, among other things, (1) demonstrate the potential benefits of long-duration energy storage to the resilience and efficient use of the electricity grid; (2) increase the commercial viability of long-duration energy storage technologies; (3) identify what services long-duration energy storage can provide to the grid. It also directs the ARPA-E Director to establish a joint program with the Director of the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) of the Department of Defense (DOD) that would demonstrate promising long-duration energy storage technologies at different scales, and help new long-duration energy storage technologies become commercially viable. The bill would appropriate $240 million for the demonstration projects over the next five years.
The bill was one of a bundle of energy-related bills considered by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources at a legislative hearing on July 9, 2019.