Battery commercialization center could advance solar

A new battery commercialization center in upstate New York aims to advance solar and other renewable energy sources by developing energy storage technology that experts say have to come to market in tandem with intermittent power sources.

The New York Battery and Energy Storage Consortium, NY-BEST, a collection of energy storage companies, universities and industry partners announced plans earlier this month to launch a commercialization center at the Eastman Business Park on the Kodak campus.

The location is ideal, said Dr. William Acker, NY-BEST executive director. Other companies doing renewable energy, particularly solar, research are setting up at the campus, which has the ability to be transformed into a major thin-film solar manufacturing facility and become a hub for clean energy research and development. NY-BEST hopes to use its new facility to bring energy storage technologies from varying levels of development to full grid deployment, Acker said.

“Storage is critical to the further penetration of renewables,” he said.

He likens the energy grid to a vegetable garden.

“If you get most of your tomatoes from the grocery store, then the ones you grow are just a bonus,” he said. “But if you rely on your vegetable garden, you have to have a way to store food through the winter.”

As more and more renewable energy source feed the grid and we become less dependent on fossil fuels, we will have to incorporate energy storage, Acker said.

“There’s a great opportunity for energy storage to make a substantial impact in the renewable energy market,” he said.

Storage will also make the existing grid more efficient. Even if storage weren’t critical to renewable energy development, it would make existing power supplies more reliable and would allow power plants to produce a consistent amount of energy regardless of load demand at different times of the day.

Acker said the center will offer a place for creating and testing new technologies from those in the earliest stages to those ready for deployment on the grid.

Image courtesy of NY-BEST

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