Rendering: Harvey-Cleary Builders and Kirksey Architecture
Work is under way on a $75 million facility that could help boost clean energy adoption and make the nation’s power grid more resilient, secure and flexible.
The Grid Storage Launchpad (GSL) is being developed by the Energy Department’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). It will allow researchers to validate and test new grid storage technologies, from basic materials and components to prototype devices.
The new facility is being designed to offer realistic operating conditions and promote “rigorous grid performance requirements for all stages of technology development and accelerate the development of innovative technologies,” according to a statement.
Gil Bindewald, acting principal deputy assistant secretary at DOE’s Office of Electricity, which provided funding for the GSL, called energy storage “a critical step on the path to getting more renewable power on the system.” He said that storage supports a growing fleet of electric vehicles, and helps to make the grid more reliable.
The GSL is intended to supports DOE’s Energy Storage Grand Challenge, which is designed to draw on the research capabilities of the DOE national laboratories, universities and industry to accelerate the development of energy storage technologies.
DOE’s Office of Electricity selected PNNL as the site for the GSL in August 2019, noting the lab’s past work in grid energy storage and power grid modernization, as well as its research on improving battery performance, reliability and safety.
The 86,000-square-foot facility will include space for 35 research laboratories and offices for around 105 staff. It is being designed to include testing chambers to assess prototypes and new grid energy storage technologies up to 100 kW under realistic operating conditions. A laboratory dedicated to understanding fundamental material properties of storage technologies is also planned.
Included in the facility’s plans is a visualization laboratory with multimedia displays to allow scientists to analyze the role of energy storage in future grid scenarios and to develop new design criteria. The GSL is being designed to offer flexible workstations and collaboration spaces, including dedicated space for researchers to develop storage technologies originating from the U.S. research and development community.
In addition to the federal funding, the state of Washington contributed $8.3 million from the Clean Energy Fund for advanced research instruments. With the funding, PNNL bought two Thermo Fisher electron microscopes and a Thermo Fisher spectrometer. The tools are intended to help researchers view changes to battery materials as they charge and discharge.
The Houston-based firms of Harvey-Cleary Builders and Kirksey Architecture were awarded the contract a year ago to design and build the GSL. The partnership also served as the design-build team for the Energy Sciences Center, a $90 million research facility that opened on the PNNL-Richland campus late in 221.
The GSL is expected to be ready for occupancy as soon as 2023