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GRID-SCALE ELECTRICITY STORAGE AT LOWEST POSSIBLE COST: ENABLED BY PUMPED HEAT ELECTRICITY STORAGE

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI)
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$2,263,859
Location: 
San Antonio, TX
Project Term: 
03/20/2019 to 06/19/2021
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 

Our national electric grid has limited ability to store excess energy, so electricity must be over-generated to assure a reliable supply. Though wind and solar power are promising clean alternatives to fossil fuels, their intermittency presents major challenges to delivery of the consistent power necessary to operate today's grid. The U.S. needs technologies that can store energy for future use across the grid. Flexible, large-scale storage would create a stronger, more resilient, and more robust electric grid.

Project Innovation + Advantages: 

SwRI's storage system is based on an innovative thermodynamic cycle to store energy in hot and cold fluids. This technology features a simplified system, high round-trip conversion efficiencies (the ratio of energy put in to energy retrieved from storage), and low plant costs. At full scale, the technology would provide more than 10 hours of electricity at rated power (the highest power input allowed to flow through particular equipment). SwRI will build a small kW-scale electric demonstrator to validate the technology, and develop control strategy and operational procedures. This grid-scale energy storage systems will help make the U.S. more energy secure, and resilient.

Potential Impact: 

SwRI will work to advance a pumped heat electricity storage (PHES) system model to a proof-of-concept demonstration at the 10-100's kW scale. The PHES can store energy thermally in any location and at a competitive cost. The proposed PHES system will surpass existing energy storage technologies and capable of generating between 10 to 100 hours of electricity during discharge.

Security: 

Cost-effective thermal energy storage would enable increased use of renewable energy resources like solar--strengthening the nation's energy security. Immediate dispatchable stored energy will increase grid resiliency and reliability, preventing blackouts and securing the nation's access to energy.

Environment: 

Cost-effective thermal energy power generation could help decrease the need for fossil fuel-based electricity and harmful emissions from coal-burning power plants.

Economy: 

Thermal energy storage systems could make it less expensive to generate power from nuclear and renewable solar energy, which in turn could help stabilize electricity rates for consumers.

Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Scott Litzelman
Project Contact: 
Natalie Smith
Release Date: 
11/15/2018