April 15, 2021: The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, based in the US state of Washington, announced on April 13 that it had awarded a $52.9 million contract to build a so-called ‘Grid Storage Launchpad’ to construction engineering firm Harvey | Harvey-Cleary and Kirksey Architecture.
“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,” says the laboratory.
The contracts awarded to the two Houston-based firms to design and build the launchpad in Washington are part of a $75 million facility funded by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity.
The PNNL says the launchpad will “promote rigorous grid performance requirements to all stages of technology development and will accelerate the development of innovative technologies. It will link researchers from national laboratories, universities and industry in a collaborative setting to speed innovation and deployment of grid-scale energy storage technologies”.
“Construction could begin as soon as late this year, with the building operational and ready for occupancy as soon as 2023, pending appropriations,” it says.
The PNNL says the facility, still to be designed, will have a minimum size of 85,000 square feet. It will include 30 research laboratories, testing chambers capable of assessing prototypes and new grid energy storage technologies at 100kW and below under realistic grid operating conditions.
A characterization laboratory dedicated to understanding fundamental material properties of storage technologies will also be part of the facility.
Patricia Hoffman, acting assistant secretary for electricity at DOE, said: “By bringing together the best and brightest minds in a state-of-the-art facility, we will accelerate energy storage innovation, boost clean energy adaptation and increase grid safety, reliability and resilience to support a growing fleet of electric vehicles and increasing renewable power.”
DOE selected PNNL as the host site for the GSL in August 2019, noting the laboratory’s extensive work in grid energy storage and power grid modernization, as well as its research on improving battery performance, reliability and safety.
In addition to federal funding, the state of Washington has committed $8.3 million for advanced research equipment and specialized instrumentation.
The two contractors are already part of the design-build team for the Energy Sciences Center, a $90 million research facility under construction on the PNNL campus.