Batteries should be included on a “breakthrough technology shortlist” in preparation for a much-needed overhaul of US energy policy, according to an expert report.
Increased federal funding and private investment is needed to support an expansion of battery storage and other technologies “deemed to have very high breakthrough potential”— such as hydrogen, ‘smart grids’ and advanced nuclear, the ‘Advancing the Landscape of Clean Energy Innovation’ report said.
The US is also recommended to establish an “impartial entity to closely monitor” supplies of lithium, cobalt, graphite and other critical materials, which are “becoming strategic resources for enabling a clean energy future”.
The report was prepared for the Breakthrough Energy Coalition— a global group of high net-worth investors. The coalition includes Total (the owner of French battery firm Saft), General Electric and French multinational utility Engie. UK and US entrepreneurs and businessmen Richard Branson and Bill Gates are also coalition members.
Former US energy secretary and Energy Futures Initiative founder Ernest Moniz (pictured), who led the report with IHS Markit vice-chairman Daniel Yergin, said: “Our report offers a roadmap for accelerating clean energy development in the US.”
Moniz said battery chemistry was ready for further exploration and that existing energy storage systems would not be enough to support grids because they can only supply power for two to four hours.
“That is nowhere near enough,” said Moniz. “We need batteries that scale, that have storage for extended periods of time.”
Last year, the US energy department announced a $30 million shot in the arm for energy storage research aimed at developing “innovative technologies for long-duration energy storage on the power grid”.