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Energy Storage R&D Looks to Be Winner from This Week's Meeting of Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

E&E Daily

In a post on Energy Central earlier this week, I outlined a number of different Energy Storage funding packages that were set to be brought up in this week's meeting of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee, wondering how those varying packages would be juggled, if some would be dropped or others declined. The half a dozen proposals would offer different amounts of money, from $25 million to over $3 billion, to funding development of energy storage technology and implementation of storage in different areas and industries. 

Well as those debates and proposals have come to the committee in the past few days, I thought it warranted a follow up. As the talks have played out, it looks like the various energy storage proposals ultimately will be combined into one marquee package with bipartisan support that could really set the stage for an influx in energy storage R&D and represent among the most significant energy advances to come out of this Congress.

Image result for battery storage

According to a report today by E&E Daily

Bipartisan interest in combining different pieces of energy storage legislation into one unified bill emerged yesterday in what could amount to one of the most significant energy-related measures to move in the Senate this Congress.

That would appear to align with the Trump administration. Department of Energy officials endorsed more than one research proposal into a technology that they deemed to have the ability "to revolutionize the energy industry," according to Assistant Secretary for the Office of Electricity Bruce Walker.

The interest in one combined storage bill, backed by Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), could see the panel back a substantial authorization by October.

"My goal, recognizing that we have five different bills out there, is to really evaluate where we are with them and synthesize the various bills and concepts, taking the best provisions that we have in each of them, combining them perhaps into a larger, more comprehensive energy storage package that we will be able to report out of the committee," Murkowski said yesterday during an Energy Subcommittee hearing.

"I would hope we would be able to do that even possibly as early as the end of this month, or more likely in September," she added. "I'm optimistic about this space and what we can do."

Energy storage is a tool that can be used by the energy industry to increase grid resilience, minimize the stress on utilities from peak demand hours, and advance the ability of intermittent renewable energy and distributed energy resources to be utilized hours after generation occurs. 

What's particularly interesting about this development, at least to me, is the bipartisan nature of the measure and the support. While different sides of the aisle constantly support their energy sources of choice, accuse the other of picking winners and losers unjustly, and more, over the years it appears that the federal support for R&D into emerging technologies wins over the most champions. Perhaps it's because this can be seen as supporting science and technology and does not wade into forcing politicians to take a stance for fossil fuels (to the chagrin of environmental advocates and allies) or against them (to the consternation of these industries and their financial supporters), Congressmen are more willing to jump aboard. 

How do you see this energy storage initiative playing out when it leaves Committee to go to wider Congress? Will support of this be seen as a political tool for those who want to tout uncontroversial support of energy innovation, or will there be real benefits at the focus of the debate? Will it become a priority or will it get lost in the shuffle after it leaves Committee? I want to hear from YOU in the comments below. 

Image result for battery storage

 

Matt Chester's picture

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