Sandia provides advanced energy storage technologies and integrated solutions for large-scale adaption of energy storage across the electricity infrastructure.

An Increasing Need for Energy Storage

ESTPThe contemporary grid limits renewable energy and other distributed energy sources from being economically and reliably integrated into the grid. While a national renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS) has yet to be established, 35 states have forged ahead with their own RPS programs and policies. As this generation becomes a larger portion of a utility’s portfolio, it may decrease the utility’s ability to provide dispatchable energy and maintain grid frequency, voltage, and inertia, which could in turn disrupt the ability to provide reliable service.

Currently, utilities use controllable generators to meet electricity demand and to maintain grid reliability and stability. As renewable energy penetration increases, these controllable generators will be replaced, making it difficult to meet demand and provide reliable and stable services.

Energy storage provides a solution to this issue. By incorporating energy storage into their network, a utility can compensate for renewable generation variability through energy time-shifting and maintain network stability. Additionally, even without increased renewables penetration, the grid requires many services for reliable and stable operation. Energy storage has the potential to provide a more cost effective solution than current grid assets.

Sandia collaborates with industry, academia, and government to reduce the cost of storage, demonstrate the effectiveness of storage technologies in the grid, and analyze policy options to value and perpetuate storage integration. Sandia deploys an integrated approach to grid storage challenges, from technology development through testing and demonstration.

Research Areas

Hydrogen Storage

Hydrogen and Fuel Cells program is developing technologies to accelerate large-scale deployment of hydrogen storage.

Thermal Storage

Sandia’s Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) program is developing molten salt thermal storage systems for grid-scale energy storage.

Battery Materials

Sandia has a large portfolio of R&D projects related to advanced materials to support the development of lower cost energy storage technologies including new battery chemistries, electrolyte materials, and membranes.

Systems Modeling

Sandia is performing research in a number of areas on the reliability and safety of energy storage systems including simulation, modeling, and analysis,  from cell components to fully integrated systems.

Systems Analysis

Sandia has extensive infrastructure to evaluate megawatt-hour class energy storage systems in a grid-tied environment to enable industry acceptance of new energy storage technologies.

Cell & Module Level Safety

Sandia has exceptional capabilities to evaluate fundamental safety mechanisms from cell to module level for applications ranging from electric vehicles to military systems.

Power Conversion Systems

Leveraging exceptional strengths in power electronics, Sandia has unique capabilities to characterize the reliability of power electronics and power conversion systems.

Grid Analytics

Analytical and multi-physics models to understand risk and safety of complex systems, optimization, and efficient utilization of energy storage systems in the field.

Energy Storage and Grid Modernization

Sandia’s work is focused on making energy storage cost effective through research and development (R&D) in new battery technology development and advancements in power electronics and power conversion systems, improving the safety and reliability of energy storage systems, and enabling the deployment of new energy storage technologies in the electric grid. Sandia’s grid energy storage research is primarily supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability – Energy Storage Program.

Sandia’s energy storage program addresses a range of topics in materials and systems as well as power electronics related to energy storage. Sandia researchers have addressed the high cost of membranes—a critical bottleneck in flow battery commercialization—by developing a new class of polymeric membranes with superior electrochemical properties and lower cost starting materials. Along with conducting extensive research in battery technologies, including lower temperature Na batteries and rechargeable alkaline batteries, Sandia has also developed lightweight nanocomposite materials for flywheels with increased rotational speeds.

Sandia is advancing power conversion systems (PCS) for grid-tied and off-grid applications. This is driven by the development of new semiconductor switching circuits, as they determine the overall cost, reliability, and performance of the converter. Next generation PCS use advanced semiconductor materials known as wide band gap semiconductors (i.e. Silicon Carbide and Gallium Nitride) that allow for faster switching frequencies, improved voltage breakdown characteristics, and higher operating temperatures. These high voltage switches, in conjunction with advances in ceramic capacitors, controls, magnetics, and packaging, lead significant improvements in system performance through increased power density and efficiency compared to PCS systems using silicon devices.

Sandia has a significant focus on safety and reliability of grid energy storage systems. This effort includes coordinating DOE Energy Storage Systems (ESS) Safety Working Groups which bring together over 150 stakeholders from industries that range from national laboratories, electric utilities, standards organizations, and manufacturing companies. The working groups are exploring gaps in safety R&D; enabling the development of codes, standards, and regulations (CSR); and educating first responders on storage system safety. Sandia also provides workshops and organizes technical conferences, including the Energy Storage Safety Forum which is slated to become an annual technical meeting for the world wide research community.

Sandia is the lead DOE lab in the development and implementation of energy storage demonstration projects and in performance analysis of energy storage systems in the field. Sandia works with the DOE in enabling energy storage systems deployment, and supports the U.S. Department of Defense, state energy offices, utilities, industry, and universities by providing design analysis, operational evaluation, and technology verification of energy storage systems. Sandia also has developing international collaborations with entities in the European Union, Japan, and Singapore. Sandia’s role in grid-tied field demonstration projects allows DOE and the nation to understand energy storage operation in grid applications, optimization of energy storage, system reliability, and the economic impact of energy storage in different market environments. Through the lab’s battery analysis program, Sandia assesses batteries ranging from the cell level to large utility class systems. Capabilities at the lab include reconfigurable command and control to simulate various use cases; analysis of advanced inverter functionality (up to 200kW); and grid simulation to measure changes in voltage, frequency, phase imbalance, and power quality.

Sandia supports research to enhance the regulatory environment for energy storage through a range of activities. These include estimating the value of energy storage for different applications and scenarios; developing control strategies that maximize revenue or benefit to the grid; identifying new control strategies and applications for energy storage; assessing public policy to identify and mitigate barriers for energy storage; developing standards; and evaluating projects.

Sandia collects key information on current and future storage technologies and acts as a clearinghouse for the information so that it can be effectively disseminated among key stakeholders and the community. Outreach activities include conducting strategic communication initiatives, managing the ESS website, improving the DOE Global Energy Storage Database, updating the DOE/EPRI Energy Storage Handbook, and organizing the Peer Review meeting and the Electrical Energy Storage Applications and Technologies Conference.

Sandia offers a network of interconnected laboratory facilities providing capabilities for real-world R&D for a variety of advanced grid technologies. The Energy Storage Systems Analysis Laboratory and its MW-scale Energy Storage Test Pad are user facilities enabling experimentation on battery cells, modules, and systems to improve performance, safety, and reliability. The Battery Abuse Testing Lab is a national center of excellence in energy storage system safety analysis. Research at this center includes studies on failure propagation phenomena, development of fire suppression methods to improve safety, and the development of high fidelity models. These facilities enable Sandia to partner with industry to remove barriers to for the large scale deployment of energy storage in the grid.

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Energy Storage Systems (ESS)

The Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability (OE) drives electric grid modernization and resiliency in the energy infrastructure.

Energy Storage Systems logo

The goal of Energy Storage Systems (ESS) is to develop advanced energy-storage technologies and systems, in collaboration with industry, academia, and government institutions, that will increase the reliability, performance, and competitiveness of electric generation and transmission in utility-tied and off-grid systems.

ESS has been instrumental in the research and development of energy-storage technologies and applications since the 1970s, especially as storage relates to electric utilities, renewables, and grid security.