Cantwell Applauds Milestone on Pioneering Energy Storage Research Facility in Washington State

Energy Department approvals allow Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to proceed with construction of vital new facility and tap $28 million in Congressional funding

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded an announcement by Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jennifer Granholm that DOE has given approval to proceed with design and construction for a new $75 million Grid Storage Launchpad at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, WA. This announcement from DOE allows PNNL to access $28 million in funding allocated by Congress over the past two years and proceed with selecting a design and construction contractor.

“Accelerating the development of energy storage technologies is fundamental to the transition to a cleaner and more diverse electricity grid.  By manufacturing and deploying these technologies here at home we will reduce energy costs, create jobs, and help keep the lights on during extreme weather emergencies,” Senator Cantwell said. “Washington is well positioned to lead the nation in advancing energy storage technologies, so I’m pleased that Energy Secretary Granholm is today affirming our nation will continue to harness the talents and innovation of the leading scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory with this announcement.”

The Grid Storage Launchpad at PNNL will boost clean energy adaptation and make America’s power grid more resilient, secure and flexible. Specifically, the Grid Storage Launchpad will provide systematic and independent validation and testing of new grid storage technologies – from basic materials and components to prototype devices – under realistic grid operating conditions. It will accelerate the development of innovative technologies and link researchers from national laboratories, universities and industry in a collaborative setting to speed innovation and deployment of grid-scale energy storage technologies.

The facility is expected to be at least 85,000 square feet and will include 30 research laboratories and a staff of 100. Construction could begin as soon as late this year, with the building operational and ready for occupancy as soon as 2023, if Congress approves the balance of the funding. The Department of Energy selected PNNL as the host site for the Grid Storage Launchpad in August 2019, noting PNNL’s extensive work in grid energy storage and power grid modernization, as well as research on improving battery performance, reliability and safety.

At now-Secretary Granholm’s nomination hearing in January, Senator Cantwell highlighted the energy storage research being done at PNNL and asked Granholm to prioritize the work.

“Our national laboratories play a pretty big role in the next generation of energy policy and enabling,” Cantwell said. “The Grid Storage Launchpad at the Pacific Northwest [National] Laboratory is really important in doing the next level work on commercialization of long-duration grid scale storage at one-tenth of the cost of today's lithium ion batteries. So I hope that these projects at our National Laboratory will be priorities for you and so will the funding.”

“Absolutely. Very excited about it,” Granholm said.

Cantwell has consistently used her membership on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to promote Washington state and PNNL’s leadership in energy storage and the promise of the Launchpad, including at a February 7, 2019 hearing on energy innovation. Cantwell also raised the issues of grid resilience and reliability again in a hearing last week with David Turk, President Biden’s nominee for Deputy Secretary of Energy, and asked Turk what he would do as Deputy to help elevate these issues.

Senator Cantwell has long supported PNNL’s energy storage R&D efforts through her work on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and by supporting PNNL’s annual appropriations requests. Cantwell has championed legislation to expand DOE’s energy storage R&D efforts and establish grid modernization programs within DOE, and her Grid Modernization Act of 2019, which authorizes over $2.2 billion over the next decade to fund R&D and programs at DOE  aimed at modernizing our nation’s electricity grid, was included in the omnibus bill that was signed into law in December.

Video from Senator Cantwell’s Q&A with Granholm is available HERE, audio is HERE, and a transcript is HERE.

Video of Senator Cantwell’s Q&A with Turk is available HERE, audio is available HERE, and a transcript is available HERE.