Barrasso: Long-Duration Energy Storage is Critical for Maintaining Electric Reliability

September 22, 2022

Click here to watch Ranking Member Barrasso’s remarks.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), delivered remarks at a full committee hearing to examine opportunities and challenges in deploying innovative battery and non-battery technologies for energy storage. 

The hearing featured testimony from Mr. Tim Hemstreet, managing director for Renewable Energy Development at PacifiCorp; Mr. Spencer Nelson, managing director for Research and New Initiatives at ClearPath; and Mr. Ted Wiley, president and chief operating officer at Form Energy. 

For more information on witness testimony click here. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“Thanks so much Mr. Chairman, and thanks for holding this very important hearing today. 

“We’re grateful for the witnesses. 

“Energy storage is the ability to retain energy when electricity production is high. 

“Then that energy can be used when electricity production is low. 

“Wind and solar are weather-dependent technologies. 

“If we are going to continue to add these technologies to the grid, energy storage is going to be critical for maintaining electric reliability.

“That will require more affordable and longer-duration storage technologies than we have right now. 

“The only current long-duration, commercially-available solution is pumped-storage hydropower. 

“Pumped-storage involves pumping water to upper elevations when electricity production is high. 

“The water is then released to produce hydropower when electricity production is low. 

“Depending on the size of the reservoir, pumped-storage can provide electricity for up to 16 hours. 

“Today, pumped-storage accounts for about 93 percent of all utility-scale energy storage in this country. 

“PacifiCorp, who is represented at our hearing today, has proposed 11 new pumped-storage projects throughout the West. 

“There are also other technologies that show great potential for the near future. 

“One of PacifiCorp’s subsidiaries plans to build TerraPower’s first Natrium reactor in my home state of Wyoming. 

“This is an advanced nuclear reactor that will produce enough electricity to power over a third of a million homes. 

“It will include liquid salt tanks that will be able to store enough energy to produce additional electricity to power more than 150,000 homes for over 5 hours. 

“Many utilities are investing in large arrays of lithium-ion batteries –similar to those used in today’s electric vehicles. 

“Others are investing in battery technologies with alternative materials. 

“It is important to focus our resources and efforts on deploying readily-available, long-duration storage technologies. 

“It’s especially important we invest in technologies that do not depend on supply-chains controlled by our adversaries, like Russia, China. 

“I’m pleased that TerraPower has committed not to use any Russian uranium to fuel its advanced reactor. 

“When it comes to lithium-ion batteries, we are heavily dependent on China. 

“Lithium-ion batteries use large amounts of copper, nickel, lithium, manganese, graphite, and rare earth elements. 

“We rely on China for the overwhelming majority of all of these minerals. 

“Focusing on developing pumped-storage hydropower and thermal storage solutions, like the Natrium reactor, can help reduce this supply chain risk. 

“Broadening our priorities beyond lithium-ion batteries can also help address costs. 

“According to the World Bank, pumped-storage hydropower costs between $106 and $200 per kilowatt-hour. 

“This is significantly cheaper than lithium-ion batteries, which cost between $393 and $581 per kilowatt-hour. 

“70 to 80 percent of the cost of a lithium-ion battery cell is directly tied to raw materials. 

“If we do not increase mining and mineral processing here in the U.S., the costs of these batteries is only going to increase as the demand increases. 

“Since taking office, the Biden administration has only made it more difficult to access American minerals. 

“Last year, it cancelled leases for a mine that contains 95 percent of our nation’s nickel, 88 percent of our nation’s cobalt, and 34 percent of our nation’s copper. 

“We cannot allow President Biden’s hostility to mining turn energy storage into another part of his ‘Made in China’ green energy policy. 

“I want to thank all of the witnesses for joining us here today. 

“I look forward to your testimony. 

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”