Chairmen: A Concentration on Energy Storage Technologies Will Yield Big Benefits for U.S. Consumers, Security, Environment
(Washington, DC) Today, the House Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Energy and Environment considered the status of developing competitive energy storage systems for stationary and vehicular applications – both of which could provide significant economic and environmental benefits for improving the nation’s energy storage capability.
“Better energy storage technologies will also enable us to operate electric utilities in a more flexible and efficient manner. Energy storage can also help us respond to power outages more efficiently, providing greater electricity reliability. This could be vital for maintaining operations at critical facilities such as hospitals during a natural disaster,” said Subcommittee Chairman Nick Lampson (D-TX).
In the context of the hearing, the Subcommittee also discussed draft legislation entitled Energy Storage Technology Advancement Act of 2007, a bill soon to be introduced by Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN).
“Energy storage is also critical for the next generation of vehicles, which will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil and lower greenhouse gas emissions,” added Chairman Gordon. “I also think public-private partnerships can improve the production process for advanced vehicle components so that the U.S. becomes a leader in manufacturing these breakthrough technologies. With so many benefits of energy storage technologies, I think additional federal investment to research, test and advance these systems should be a priority.”
Broad deployment of energy storage technologies can help to improve the operational efficiency and reliability of our electricity delivery system, and allow for more diversified electricity sources and vehicle models that reduce our dependence on foreign energy supplies and address concerns about global climate change. However, there is concern that the U.S. is falling behind in the race to develop and manufacture a wide range of energy storage technologies, and a significant effort is underway to build up a domestic energy storage industry for both stationary and vehicular applications.
At this hearing Committee Members sought a better understanding of the state of energy storage technologies and how the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) energy storage program could further advance these technologies.
Today, electricity is generated as it is used, with very little electricity being stored for later use. While this system has worked for decades, it is not very efficient. Demand for power varies greatly throughout the day and throughout the year as demands for lighting, heating and cooling fluctuate through the seasons. Because the capacity for generation of power matches the consumption of power, the electricity supply system must be sized to generate enough electricity to meet the maximum anticipated demand, or peak demand.
This inefficiency becomes more evident when considering that it is possible that the peak electricity demand for any given year could be for a very short period – a few days or even hours. Rather than maintain massive generation systems that are designed around a short-lived peak demand, energy storage technologies would provide a means to stockpile energy for later use and essentially reduce the need to generate more power during times of peak electricity demand.
Advances in energy storage technologies are often regarded as key to increasing the reliability and widespread use of many renewable energy technologies. Together, potential benefits from broad deployment of energy storage technologies would help to improve our energy security. Because our economy relies heavily on an affordable and reliable electricity delivery system, the energy security benefits achieved from greater use of energy storage systems could be significant.
“With both stationary and mobile energy storage, we cannot let an opportunity to establish a domestic manufacturing base for these technologies pass us by. And unfortunately, we may already be losing this race. New R&D activities with the Department of Energy are critical to advancing energy storage technologies, and we should pursue this aggressively to ensure U.S. participation in this field,” added Chairman Lampson.
Witnesses reported that there are a number of promising energy storage technologies being developed for different applications, but there is still a role for the federal government to help accelerate energy storage technologies into the marketplace.
Ms. Lynda Ziegler, Sr. Vice President for Customer Services at Southern California Edison testified, “We believe that with continued engineering advances and appropriate public policy support, the widespread use of advanced batteries in plug-in vehicles and in stationary storage applications will become one of the nation’s most effective strategies in the broader effort to address energy security, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce air pollutants.”
Ms. Mary Ann Wright, Vice President and General Manager Hybrid Systems for Johnson Controls added, “I passionately believe that electrification of the vehicle powertrain in part or in whole can make a dominant contribution to America’s energy security and transportation sustainability. Electric powertrains by nature are incredibly more efficient than their internal combustions counterparts.”
Witnesses today on Panel 1 included: Ms. Patricia Hoffman, Deputy Director Research and Development, U.S. Department of Energy Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability; Mr. Brad Roberts, Chairman, Electricity Storage Association; Mr. Larry Dickerman, Director Distribution Engineering Services for American Electric Power; Mr. Tom Key, Technical Leader, Renewable and Distributed Generations, Electric Power Research Institute. In addition to Ms. Ziegler and Ms. Wright, Panel 2 was comprised of Ms. Denise Gray, Director Hybrid Energy Storage Systems, General Motors.
For further information on this hearing, please click here.