Magnetic Energy Storage System

ABB
Superconducting Magnet Energy Storage System with Direct Power Electronics Interface
Graphic of ABB Technology's project
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$4,580,020
Location: 
Cary, NC
Project Term: 
10/01/2010 to 06/30/2014
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
Our national electric grid has limited ability to store excess energy, so electricity must constantly be over-generated to assure reliable supply. Though wind and solar power are promising clean alternatives to fossil fuels, their natural unpredictability and intermittency present major challenges to delivery of the consistent power that is necessary to operate today's grid. The U.S. needs technologies that can store renewable energy for future grid-use at any location. Flexible, large-scale storage would create a stronger and more robust electric grid by enabling renewables to contribute to reliable power generation.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
ABB is developing an advanced energy storage system using superconducting magnets that could store significantly more energy than today's best magnetic storage technologies at a fraction of the cost. This system could provide enough storage capacity to encourage more widespread use of renewable power like wind and solar. Superconducting magnetic energy storage systems have been in development for almost 3 decades; however, past devices were designed to supply power only for short durations--generally less than a few minutes. ABB's system would deliver the stored energy at very low cost, making it ideal for eventual use in the electricity grid as a cost-effective competitor to batteries and other energy storage technologies. The device could potentially cost even less, on a per kilowatt basis, than traditional lead-acid batteries.
Impact Summary: 
If successful, ABB's superconducting magnetic energy storage system could eventually provide the large-scale storage capacity required to support the use of renewable power throughout the grid.
Security: 
A more efficient and reliable grid would be more resilient to potential disruptions.
Environment: 
Electricity generation accounts for over 40% of U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Enabling large-scale contributions of wind and solar power for our electricity generation would result in a substantial decrease in CO2 emissions.
Economy: 
Increases in the availability of wind and solar power would reduce fossil fuel demand, resulting in reduced fuel prices and more stable electricity rates.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. John Lemmon
Project Contact: 
Dr. V.R. Ramanan
Partners
Brookhaven National Lab
SuperPower Inc.