Trust will focus $120 million DOE grant on commercializing energy storage

Argonne Lab leads DOE $120 grant for energy storage hubThe Clean Energy Trust, a Midwestern nonprofit aimed at helping regional clean energy companies commercialize their technologies, will now help to commercialize national projects as part of the Department of Energy’s newly formed and funded energy storage research hub

The DOE announced last week that it is awarding up to $120 million to the Joint Center for Energy Storage and Research, which will be based out of Argonne National Laboratory outside of Chicago.

The trust will work with researchers, investors and entrepreneurs to bring new energy storage technology that could make solar and wind less intermiitent to market.

The goal of the new energy storage research hub is to increase storage density five times and reduce costs five times within five years. “This is a really exciting opportunity for this group of scientists,” said Amy Francetic, executive director of the Clean Energy Trust. “The DOE has decided that this is the best of the best. And we’re incredibly thrilled that it’s going to be based here in Chicago.” The state of Illinois has committed to spending up to $35 million to construct a new 45,000-square-foot home for the center.

The members of the newly formed center, however, are spread far and wide. There are scientists, organizations and labs that will participate in the research in Boston, California and various states in between, Francetic said. “Our role is the commercialization of the science,” she said.

The Trust is working with a group of venture capitalists that will be able to invest in some of the most promising energy storage technologies emerging from the incubator and carry them into the market.

In addition to helping emerging companies find financing, Francetic said the Trust will be able to coach scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs in various stages through the process of becoming a business.

“We’ll be evaluating what the business path could be for the different technologies,” she said. “We’ll talk about what advantages the technology might have in the market and what the development needs are to make the science marketable.”

The Trust will help emerging companies figure out how to fund and staff their ventures for commercialization. “This is really exciting,” Francetic said. “We have a whole bunch of geeks in our office that live for this.”

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