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American-Made Challenges

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Energy Storage Innovations Prize

This DOE Office of Electricity-sponsored competition tasks innovators to submit transformative approaches to grid-scale energy storage.
stage:
Enter
prize:
$300,000
Overview

Challenge Overview

Overview

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Electricity is launching the American-Made Energy Storage Innovations 2030 Prize. This prize aims to gain insight on innovative, emerging, and next-generation energy storage technologies to inform DOE’s strategy on transformative storage technologies to accelerate grid modernization and decarbonization. Competitors will propose their grid-scale, long duration-capable energy storage technology innovation with a written summary and accompanying 90-second video. Submissions will be judged on the innovation’s quality including a pathway to the Energy Storage Grand Challenge (ESGC)’s levelized cost of storage (LCOS) 2030 goals, strength of plan, and other unique benefits (supply chain considerations, equity, etc.). 

It is vital to note that this competition is focusing only on emerging energy storage technologies. Established technologies that are being considered as part of the SI Framework effort are ineligible to participate in this prize. See the official rules sections on Eligibility and Background for detailed descriptions of the ineligible technology categories and expanded rationale. 

 

Prizes  

The Energy Storage Innovations Prize offers a total prize pool of $300,000 in cash prizes. There will be up to ten winners total, with up to five Storage Innovations Champion winners receiving $50,000 each and up to five Storage Innovations Finalist winners receiving $10,000 each. The prize money is cash with no restrictions to its use. In addition to the cash prize, proposed technologies of some or all winning teams may be included in a future Report to Congress, an Office of Electricity presentation focusing on the state of energy storage innovation in the United States. Inclusion in this report, and the extent to which winners may be featured, is not guaranteed and dependent on intergovernmental review and approval. Winners are announced publicly, but may opt out of inclusion in the 2023 Storage Innovations Report. 

 

Submission

Final submissions will include:

  • A 90-second video introducing your team and innovation
  • A 3000-word maximum narrative that answers four questions:
    • What is your storage technology innovation?
    • How does your technology support DOE's goal for cost-effective long-duration energy storage?
    • What challenges are associated with the development and deployment of your technology?
    • How do you plan to further develop or commercialize your technology?
  • Summary PowerPoint slide

See the official rules for a full overview of the prize, how to compete, and what to submit.

Guidelines

Challenge Guidelines

This prize is focused on grid-scale, long-duration-capable energy storage innovations that are distinct from those in DOE’s separate Storage Innovations Framework effort. The following Table lists examples of technologies of interest for this prize competition. Other technologies beyond those listed in this Table may be of interest.

 

TypeTechnology
Electrochemical Li-metal
Na-metal
Other metals (e.g., Mg, Al)
Reversible fuel cells
ElectromechanicalLiquid air energy storage
Flywheels
Geomechanical
Pumped storage hydropower
Gravitational
ThermalPhase change
Low-temperature storage
High-temperature sensible heat
Thermal-photovoltaic
ChemicalChemical carriers (e.g., ammonia)
Hydrogen
Flexible buildingsThermostatically controlled loads
Building mass
Ice and chilled water
Organic phase change material
Salt hydrate
Thermochemical
Desiccant
Flexible generationFront-of-the-meter flexibility and hybrids
Behind-the-meter hybrids

 

DOE is already spending significant resources analyzing the Storage Innovations Framework-focused technologies. The following Table lists the technologies of focus under the framework, which are not of interest for this prize.

 

Lithium-ion batteries

Lead batteries

Sodium-ion batteries

Flow batteries

Zinc batteries

Compressed-air energy storage

Supercapacitors

 

 

The purpose of this prize is to highlight innovative, disruptive ideas that accelerate next-generation energy storage. If your technology falls within or adjacent to one of the technology families listed in the Table above, your submission must clearly differentiate how your innovation is significantly different from the historical or projected trajectory for that technology. 

 

Please review the official rules  for the complete application process and instructions for competing.

 

If you want to receive updates on the prize or have any questions, please subscribe by using the contact feature on the HeroX platform or message us directly at storageinnovations@nrel.gov.

Timeline
Updates7

Challenge Updates

EFN Networking and Panelist Webinar Recording Available

Nov. 22, 2022, 7:29 a.m. PST by NREL Challenge

Thank you to everyone who joined EFN's November 16th Energy Storage Innovations Prize Networking and Panelist Webinar!

Please find links to the Recording and Slides.

If you are interested in competing or are competing, you are welcome to register for EFN's Energy Storage Office Hours weekly from Nov. 22nd through the Week of Dec. 13th.

During office hours, EFN is happy to discuss your ideas and feedback on your draft application.

Thank you EFN for being a Power Connector for this Prize!


Tech Focus: Thermal Energy Storage

Nov. 21, 2022, 8:32 a.m. PST by Prize Administrator

The Energy Storage Innovation prize is heating up, with the deadline to enter coming up on December 16, 2022. This week, we are focusing on a new type of eligible technology area for this prize: thermal energy storage. 

Chemical and thermal energy storage focuses on containment technologies that are capable of harnessing energy for conversion to or from electricity. These thermal reservoirs can be discharged for a variety of applications, including electricity generation through a heat engine, industrial processes, or building uses. In addition, thermal energy may potentially offset demands on the grid that would otherwise manifest as electrical heating or cooling loads. –Energy Storage Grand Challenge

Thermal storage technologies have the potential to provide large capacity, long-duration storage to enable high penetrations of intermittent renewable energy, flexible energy generation for conventional baseload sources, and seasonal energy needs. All thermal storage technology areas are eligible for this prize, including proposals for phase change, low-temperature storage, high-temperature sensible heat, and thermal-photovoltaic innovations.

“Wind and solar power are now the lowest-cost electricity sources on the grid, but the sun always sets, and the wind doesn’t always blow. Energy storage is the next great challenge,” said Craig Turchi, National Renewable Energy Laboratory researcher. “Thermal batteries can address long-duration energy storage needs that enable a clean and reliable electricity system and, in many cases, also support commercial and industrial heat demand.”

A series of webinars led by the Department of Energy give an overview of thermal energy storage. Although these webinars focus on building applications, they offer an in-depth perspective on the current state of thermal technologies, including ice storage, hot water storage, and novel materials

Example Research: Molton Salt Thermal Energy Storage

Thermal storage options include sensible, latent, and thermochemical technologies:

  • Sensible thermal storage includes storing heat in liquids such as molten salts and in solids such as concrete blocks, rocks, or sand-like particles. 
  • Latent heat storage involves storing heat in a phase-change material that utilizes the large latent heat of phase change during the melting of a solid to a liquid.
  • Thermochemical storage converts heat into chemical bonds, which is reversible and beneficial for long-term storage applications. 

Often utilized by concentrated solar power plants, molten salt is a popular medium choice for sensible thermal storage systems due to its stability at high temperatures (~600°C). The molten salt is heated and stored in an insulated tank and can later be pumped through a heat exchanger unit to raise steam for a turbine. This approach can provide flexible energy storage production for a variety of applications.

Learn more about thermal energy storage


Tech Focus: Electromechanical Energy Storage

Nov. 14, 2022, 1:50 p.m. PST by Prize Administrator

NOTE: Don't forget to attend our next Networking Webinar, hosted by Entrepreneur Futures Network, on November 16 at 12 p.m. ET. Sign up today!

 

Energy storage entrepreneurs are looking beyond batteries to support future grid-scale, long-duration-capable systems. Another technology area of interest for the Energy Storage Innovations prize is electromechanical energy storage. 

Mechanical storage systems use mechanical methods to convert and store electrical energy. These systems include pumped water, compressed air, spinning flywheels, and emerging gravity storage systems. –Energy Storage Grand Challenge

Each mechanical energy storage technology area offers unique advantages to the capacity, lifetime, and/or durability of long-duration storage systems. While most mechanical energy storage systems utilize well-established materials and technologies, future designs must accommodate the electric grid’s increasingly variable supply and demand. In addition, efforts to improve mechanical energy storage systems must focus on lowering manufacturing costs and improving safety for new system designs. 

Although compressed-air technologies are not of interest to this prize, new ideas within the following emerging areas may apply:

  • Liquid air 
  • Flywheels
  • Geomechanical
  • Pumped-storage hydropower
  • Gravitational

Example Research: Pumped-Storage Hydropower (PSH)

A type of hydroelectric energy storage, PSH systems consist of two water reservoirs at different elevations that generate power through the movement of water. PSH acts similarly to a giant battery because it can store energy from renewable resources—such as wind or solar—and then release it when needed. PSH is the oldest form of energy storage and makes up over 90% of the world’s grid-scale energy storage applications, with 43 plants here in the U.S.

Despite the maturity of this technology, innovations are needed to meet DOE’s decarbonization goals. Currently, PSH faces long construction lead times, high capital costs, and geographic restrictions. New research at DOE’s national laboratories is developing non-traditional PSH configurations using mine shafts, aquifers, or integrated designs to reduce the geographical footprint and improve the capacity utilization of these systems. The Energy Storage Innovation prize is seeking additional nascent or emerging technology ideas that may help redefine traditional PSH.

Learn more about PSH.


Tech Focus: Electrochemical Energy Storage

Nov. 8, 2022, 7:47 a.m. PST by Prize Administrator

The Energy Storage Innovations prize is seeking next-generation energy storage technologies to inform DOE’s strategy on transformative storage technologies to accelerate grid modernization and decarbonization. One technology area of interest is electrochemical energy storage. 

Electrochemical storage systems use chemical reactions to convert and store energy, encompassing a range of battery chemistries and designs as well as reversible fuel cells for stationary and transportation applications. –Energy Storage Grand Challenge

Electrochemical energy storage currently dominates the market for new grid deployments in the form of lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are proven systems and cost-effective at short durations, but they also present supply chain challenges and are less cost-effective at longer durations.  Lithium-ion batteries and other well-established battery technologies—including sodium-ion, lead, zinc, redox flow, and supercapacitors—will be highlighted in the Storage Innovations 2030 Framework and are not of interest to this prize. 

However, energy storage innovation opportunities are endless, and emerging electrochemical battery technologies may support grid-scale, long-duration-capable systems of the future. Among these, we’ve identified metal-based batteries (such as lithium-metal and sodium-metal) or reversible fuel cells as potential technologies of interest. 

Example Research: Sodium-Metal Batteries

“We see a lot of potential in sodium-based battery technologies to help meet the challenges facing decarbonization today,” said Erik Spoerke, Sandia National Laboratories. “Sodium offers a cost-effective option for batteries because it is both readily abundant here on earth and already processed in large quantities. Molten sodium batteries are one emerging technology area we are excited about.”

Unlike sodium-ion batteries, sodium-sulfur and sodium-metal-halide batteries use a molten-sodium anode and thus require significantly different cell architectures. Both technologies use a solid ceramic electrolyte and, as a result, require costly high-temperature operating systems. Further research and innovative technology designs are needed to overcome these barriers. 

Learn more about sodium-based batteries

 

For more information on which technologies are eligible for the Energy Storage Innovations Prize, please view the Official Prize Rules. 


Informational Webinar Recording Now Available!

Nov. 2, 2022, 8:10 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

If you missed our Energy Storage Innovations Prize informational webinar, the recording is now available

You can also view the slides from the webinar located in the Resources tab.

On Tuesday, November 1, Prize Administrators hosted an informational webinar about the Energy Storage Innovations Prize. This video includes an overview of the prize rules, including who can apply, prizes to win, what to submit, and how entries will be judged. We also answered a few questions about which technologies are eligible for the prize. 

 

We also introduce the Energy Storage Innovations Prize Power Connector: Entrepreneur Futures Network (EFN). All prize competitors can leverage their support for free. To learn more, sign up for the EFN Office Hours or join their virtual networking event on Wednesday, November 16. 

 

If you still have unanswered questions about the Energy Storage Innovations Prize, please reach out to us directly at

 


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