US to fund batteries that store power for days, not hours

(Bloomberg) — The U.S. is looking for new battery technologies that are cheaper and can hold onto power longer.

The U.S. Energy Department plans to offer a total of as much as $30 million to researchers developing stationary energy storage systems that can deliver power to the grid for as long as 100 hours, according to a statement Tuesday. The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy will administer the program, which is open to a broad range of technologies including mechanical systems like giant flywheels, and new chemical or electrochemical concepts such as flow batteries.

These targets go far beyond the capabilities of the lithium-ion batteries that dominate existing energy storage in smartphones and electric vehicles today. While widely used, lithium ion batteries aren’t very cost effective for supplying power to the grid because they’re expensive to make and typically store power for just a few hours of use.

“We are peering over the energy horizon and identifying the key technologies we need to support the power system of the future,” Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in the statement.

(Written by Christopher Martin)