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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released its Grid Energy Storage report to the members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The report was commissioned at the request of Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the committee's chairman.

According to the DOE, the report identifies the benefits of grid energy storage, challenges that must be addressed to enable broader use and efforts of the department, in conjunction with industry and other government organizations, to meet those challenges.

The DOE has identified four challenges that must be addressed to enable energy storage: the development of cost-effective energy storage technologies, validated reliability and safety, an equitable regulatory environment, and industry acceptance.

Some of the key strategic actions, the DOE says, to address each of the four key challenges include the following:

- Cost-competitive energy storage technology can be achieved through research; resolving economic and performance barriers; and creating analytical tools for design, manufacturing, innovation and deployment.

- The reliability and safety of energy storage technologies can be validated through research and development, creation of standard testing protocols, independent testing against utility requirements, and documenting the performance of installed systems.

- Establishing an equitable regulatory environment is possible by conducting public-private evaluations of grid benefits; exploring technology-neutral mechanisms for monetizing grid services; and developing industry- and regulatory agency-accepted standards for siting, grid integration, procurement and performance evaluation.

- Industry acceptance can be achieved through field trials and demonstrations and use of industry-accepted planning and operational tools to incorporate storage into the grid.

The need for energy storage in the electric grid is increasing as a result of the growing use of renewable power generation, including wind and solar, and rising frequency of severe weather caused by climate change, the DOE reports. The department adds that the grid's evolution toward more distributed energy systems and the incorporation of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids also contribute to the growing interest in grid storage.

"Developing and deploying energy storage opens the door to adding more renewable power to the grid, which is essential to the fight against climate change," Wyden notes. "Energy storage will also help lower consumer costs by saving low-cost power for peak times and making renewable energy available when it's needed the most, not just when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining."

The full report is available here.

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