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ARPA-E CHARGES Program to Validate Novel Grid-Storage Technologies

December 8, 2014 

Energy storage promises to play a key role in the modernization of our nation’s electric grid. While relatively little storage is deployed on today’s grid, advanced storage technologies can provide options for tomorrow’s energy demands. Increased grid storage would improve operating capabilities, enhance reliability, and enable the cost-effective integration of ever-increasing amounts of renewable and distributed energy sources. 

ARPA-E has invested in a number of potentially transformative grid-storage technologies, including novel battery chemistries and innovative design architectures. Many of these promising technologies are still at an early stage and require more data on their performance, reliability, and safety through extended use under realistic grid conditions.

To help fulfill its mission of moving innovative energy technologies out of the lab and into the market, ARPA-E will be working with teams led by the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and DNV GL to validate the performance of ARPA-E-funded grid-storage technologies. The teams will provide test facilities and validation to various technologies through a partnership program called Cycling Hardware to Analyze and Ready Grid-Scale Electricity Storage (CHARGES).

Through CHARGES, ARPA-E project teams working on grid-storage innovations will have a way to evaluate their technologies in both controlled environments and under realistic grid operating conditions early in their development cycle.  Furthermore, this testing and validation will provide grid operators and utilities with reliable information about the performance characteristics, operating requirements, and life expectancy of emerging technologies.

UCSD, home to one of the country’s largest microgrids, will develop energy storage load profiles and duty cycles. UCSD will then test cells and modules from ARPA-E-funded battery developers in its laboratory and assist the ARPA-E developers in resolving issues and enhancing the performance of their technologies. Those technologies that perform well in laboratory testing using the selected duty cycles will then be deployed for extended testing on UCSD’s microgrid.

Likewise, DNV GL will provide a combination of third-party testing facilities, novel testing and analysis methodologies, and expert oversight to enable objective and transparent evaluation of existing ARPA-E grid-storage technologies. DNV GL will leverage its deep expertise in economic analysis of energy storage to determine appropriate test protocols that reflect real-world conditions.

ARPA-E is always searching for new ways to innovate and advance the development and deployment of innovative energy technologies. Through CHARGES, ARPA-E is changing what’s possible in grid-storage and working to make the secure, reliable grid of the future a reality.