Skip to contents
Energy Efficiency

The U.S. Wants An Affordable, Reliable, Carbon-free Grid

The exterior of the Department of Energy in Washington D.C. on Independence Ave captures the reflection of clouds and the sun setting. | Washington, D.C. | Sara Cottle

New Long Duration Storage Initiative Calls For Major Cost Reduction Goal By 2030.

The Department of Energy is ready to move the United States to an affordable, reliable and carbon-free electric grid. On July 14, the department announced the Long Duration Storage Energy Earthshot Initiative, a comprehensive new plan that calls for a 90 percent reduction in the cost of renewable, clean energy storage systems by 2030. This type of energy storage includes the systems that store energy — from batteries, solar, wind and other sources — for upwards of 10 hours. The initiative is the second part of the larger Energy Earthshots Initiative, under 2020’s Better Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Act, an act championed by Senator Susan Collins.

This new venture sets the stage for significant cost savings for long-duration energy storage. Rolled into the new federal 2022 budget, the Long Duration Storage Energy Earthshot Initiative is at the heart of supporting the hundreds of gigawatts of clean energy that will be required as the country transitions to clean energy. It will include funding research, large-scale demonstrations and a push toward domestic manufacturing. The goal is to make this type of energy readily available to all. Reliable, efficient, and inexpensive clean energy is a cornerstone of new American sustainability. Lowering costs sets the stage to speed up technological gains, a process that also results in many new jobs.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Graham said that the target is designed to make the very best use of renewable energy production across the country.

“We need to be able to use [clean] energy wherever and whenever it’s needed,” she said. That’s why the Department of Energy is working aggressively toward cheaper, longer duration energy storage to [the administration’s] goal of 100 percent clean electricity by 2035. This new initiative will create new manufacturing jobs right here at home and make sure clean, reliable, affordable electricity is available to everyone, including Americans living in remote and underserved communities.”

One of the most expensive types of energy storage is lithium-ion batteries, the cost of which has already started to decline. Secretary Graham and her team hope this new initiative to lower costs will set the stage to explore new ideas for battery storage. Ideally, this type of storage would soon become available anytime and anywhere. Storage methods such as pumped thermal and hydropower are used now, but there has been very little focus on improvement or adaptation. The initiative’s new research funding opportunities will certainly incentivize advanced methods, though the amount available depends on Congress’ final budget numbers.

Making long-term energy storage cheaper changes the game in particular for solar and wind. With proper storage, solar power can be used at night and for long stretches of cloudy days, while wind power can be used for days on end even when the air is still.

“Energy storage technology holds great promise in the fight against climate change,” said Senator Collins. “Strengthening current technology and advancing next-generation energy storage will allow us to integrate more renewables, such as wind and solar, which in turn will help to reduce emissions…It is exciting to see the Department of Energy begin implementing this new law [which will] bring us closer to a clean energy future.”

The Long Duration Storage Energy Earthshot Initiative is just one of many new programs designed to make the country a more sustainable, healthy place to live. The federal government is working to make the 90 percent reduction goal a success. The Department of Energy’s Offices of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Electricity, Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, Science, Nuclear Energy, and Technology Transitions are all tasked to move the nation forward to a cleaner tomorrow.

Advertisement