$75 million Richland lab to power clean energy innovation

Design, construction set to begin on Grid Storage Launchpad at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Gsl Rendering 2021 Courtesy Pnnl

DOE has provided approvals for the Grid Storage Launchpad, which allow PNNL to move to the design and construction phase of the project. This is a conceptual rendering of what the Grid Storage Launchpad energy-storage facility could look like on the PNNL campus in Richland. (Rendering courtesy: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

RICHLAND, Wash. — A new facility soon to be built in Richland will be a hub for new energy storage discoveries and technologies, the Department of Energy announced Wednesday.

The DOE calls it the Grid Storage Launchpad, or GSL. It will be built at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, or PNNL. Work will focus on national grid energy storage research and development, or R&D.

The PNNL GSL R&D center now begins its design and construction phase. PNNL will pick a contractor, work toward a groundbreaking later this year, and get the GSL ready for use by 2025.

The estimated $75 million facility will “boost clean energy adaptation and accelerate the development and deployment of long-duration, low-cost grid energy storage,” according to a news release.

In other words, it’s a $75 million lab to discover and build upon the next big breakthroughs in batteries.

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$75 million Richland lab to power clean energy innovation $75 million Richland lab to power clean energy innovation

Renderings of the Grid Storage Launchpad facility as provided by the DOE

“The Grid Storage Launchpad facility will bring together researchers and industry from around the country to modernize and add flexibility to the power grid, advance storage technologies, and boost use of clean energy,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Deploying new grid technologies means we can get more renewable power on the system, support a growing fleet of electric vehicles, make our grid more reliable and resilient, and secure our clean energy future.”

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More information from the DOE:

The planned facility will include 30 research laboratories, some of which will be testing chambers capable of assessing prototypes and new grid energy storage technologies under real world grid operating conditions. The GSL will include flexible workstations and collaboration spaces, including Fellowship Labs, which will provide dedicated space for researchers to incubate storage technologies originating from the U.S. research and development community.

Here are the GSL’s main goals:

  • Collaboration: Bringing DOE, multidisciplinary researchers, and industry together at the facility will lower the barriers to innovation and deployment of grid-scale energy storage
  • Validation: The facility will enable independent testing of next generation grid energy storage materials and systems under realistic grid operating conditions
  • Acceleration: From benchtop to systems, the facility will de-risk and speed the development of new technologies by propagating rigorous performance requirements

“It took 40 years to get to the current state of today’s lithium-ion battery technology, but we need to move much faster to develop the long-duration, low-cost batteries needed to meet the significant challenges of decarbonizing the energy system,” said PNNL Director Steven Ashby. “The GSL will speed up the process considerably by doing the work needed to develop and deploy new grid storage technologies.”

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Federal representatives for Washington cheered this week’s announcement:

On top of the federal funding for this project, Battelle and the state of Washington have invested, too.

The state Department of Commerce has committed $8.3 million for “advanced research equipment and specialized instrumentation that will provide unparalleled insights into the behavior of battery materials during operation.” The department also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Office of Electricity to share energy-storage best practices with other states.

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This new center should bring dozens of high-tech jobs to our community.

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