Senate Energy Committee Examines Grid-Scale Energy Storage

June 4, 2019

ENR hearing examined grid-scale energy storage and storage R&D. 

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s opening remarks, please click here.

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s questioning, please click here.

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee examined opportunities for the expanded deployment of grid-scale energy storage. Ranking Member Joe Manchin (D-WV) stressed the important role grid-scale energy storage will play in efforts to achieve carbon emission reductions and address climate change like he and Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) observed on their recent visit to the Arctic.  

“Energy storage is needed to achieve the full potential of renewable energy. It’s really a key enabling technology to a low-carbon, modern grid that will help us achieve our carbon emissions reductions and address climate change. Storage allows us to dispatch energy during times of peak demand, enhance the reliability of our grid, provide energy security and back-up power for customers, and enable increased flexibility for helping to manage the continued growth of renewable generation on our system. Storage can also help defer distribution system upgrades and it can be installed quickly compared to traditional generation, bringing better value to customers while maintaining reliability,” Senator Manchin said.“The Chairman and I just came back from a trip to the Arctic. We met with leaders from Arctic nations and what I took away from that trip is this: not one country, including Russia, has used climate change as a tool for political divisiveness. They all know it is life or death for them to survive in that fragile ecosystem. It was remarkable to walk away seeing everyone from the far right, to the far left and everywhere in between trying to find an answer on how to subvert this. Because it is real and it is damaging and it is going to affect all of our lives.” 

Senator Manchin questioned Dr. George Crabtree, Director of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research at Argonne National Laboratory, about the impact a lack of a stable domestic supply of critical minerals will have on our ability to achieve a low-Carbon energy system. 

“As I understand it, a potentially serious obstruction to greater manufacturing and adoption of low – and carbon-free technologies is a reliable access to critical minerals. Right now, we depend on China for those minerals. With a trade war, the instability we have, how it could escalate and how long this could go on… What type of vulnerable situation are we in with a lack of a stable domestic supply? We have those minerals here in America. We just don’t do the refining or any of the processing. Do you believe this is of a critical nature and we should be acting quickly?” Senator Manchin asked.

“Indeed I do believe that it is critical. If you look at what other countries have done, particularly China, they have taken a very strategic and deliberate action to line up their supply chains. So they’ve gone to other countries and written long term contracts to get lithium, for example, or cobalt. They bring those minerals to China where they’re refined and then sell them to battery manufacturers some of which are in China but elsewhere as well. The United States hasn’t taken a strategic and deliberate point of view to that challenge. You mention that there are minerals in this country that we can certainly exploit and we should certainly do that. But we’ll need many more sources other than those that are here and I think we should look at that,” Dr. Crabtree said.

Senator Manchin also questions Mr. Andrew Ott, President and CEO of PJM Interconnection LLC, about PJM’s storage participation opportunities.  

“PJM has the largest amount of demand response in the world, currently making up six percent of PJM’s total supply. You’ve also expressed concern that without limits on discharge duration, storage resources may displace these important demand response resources in the capacity market. However, I’ve heard critics argue that your proposal will prevent storage from fully participating in the marketplace. What are some opportunities for storage participation in PJM beyond the capacity market?”Senator Manchin asked. 

“It is key that the revenue streams that have created the significant benefit of six percent of our resources being demand response have displaced the equivalent of probably nine nuclear power plants. This is significant stuff. The point though is that at some point the peaks become flat and we need to look for alternative ways to use these kinds of technologies. Hence, we’ve put forth a proposal to say look there is tremendous opportunity for thirty minute reserve, ten minute reserve, these other types of very valuable grid resources. Backup power, as you indicate. If we can pay for them and develop revenue streams for those, I want to put them as part of the market. Essentially, it would create a forward market for these types of valuable reserves and that would create the revenue stream that’s needed for this type of future development and that is where we need to be,” Mr. Ott said.

The hearing also featured testimony from representatives from Brookfield Renewable, Xcel Energy Inc. and Fluence. 

To watch the hearing in full, please click here