Houston Partnership Selected to Design, Construct New $75 Million Grid Storage Launchpad at PNNL

RICHLAND, Wash. – A partnership of Harvey | Harvey-Cleary and Kirksey Architecture will design and construct the Grid Storage Launchpad, a $75 million facility funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity, that will boost clean energy adoption and make the nation’s power grid more resilient, secure and flexible.

The Houston-based firms have been awarded a $52.9 million contract to design and build the research facility on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory campus in Richland, Wash. Harvey | Harvey-Cleary and Kirksey Architecture is also the design-build team for the Energy Sciences Center, a $90 million research facility currently under construction on the PNNL campus. In 2008-09, Harvey | Harvey-Cleary served as the general contractor for a biological and computational sciences research center at PNNL.

The GSL will provide systematic and independent validation and testing of new grid storage technologies-from basic materials and components to prototype devices-under realistic grid operating conditions. It will promote rigorous grid performance requirements to all stages of technology development and will accelerate the development of innovative technologies. Further, it will link researchers from national laboratories, universities and industry in a collaborative setting to speed innovation and deployment of grid-scale energy storage technologies.

Construction could begin as soon as late this year, with the building operational and ready for occupancy as soon as 2023, pending appropriations.

A collaborative research center

“The Grid Storage Launchpad will offer tremendous opportunities for collaborative research and development of next generation grid storage technologies,” said Patricia Hoffman, acting assistant secretary for electricity at DOE. “By bringing together the best and brightest minds in a state-of-the-art facility, we will accelerate energy storage innovation, boost clean energy adaptation and increase grid safety, reliability and resilience to support a growing fleet of electric vehicles and increasing renewable power.”

“Affordable grid-scale energy storage is a requirement for broad decarbonization of the electricity supply and a more resilient and flexible power grid,” noted PNNL Director Steven Ashby. “Today, widespread deployment of energy storage for grid applications is inhibited by the need for improved performance and reduced cost, and the ability to validate the reliability and safety of new technologies. Research at the Grid Storage Launchpad will address these challenges, accelerating the development and deployment of new grid storage technologies.”

“The U.S. has long been a pioneer in the research and development of new battery technologies. It is important that we transfer the research and development to U.S. industry,” added Jud Virden, associate laboratory director for PNNL’s Energy and Environment Directorate. “The GSL will fill key gaps in the grid-scale energy storage development cycle, including early validation of new technologies with input from industry developers and end users.”

The to-be-designed facility will be a minimum of 85,000 gross square feet. It will include 30 research laboratories. It also will include testing chambers capable of assessing prototypes and new grid energy storage technologies at 100 kilowatts and below under realistic grid operating conditions. A characterization laboratory dedicated to understanding fundamental material properties of storage technologies will also be part of the facility.

Photo of a PNNL researcher using High Throughput Experimentation equipment.
The Grid Storage Launchpad will identify promising new materials and chemistries to power next-generation battery technologies. Above, a PNNL researcher uses High Throughput Experimentation equipment to efficiently analyze thousands of chemistry combinations to identify promising candidates for new battery designs. (Photo by Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

A visualization laboratory with multimedia audio-visual displays will be used to analyze the role of energy storage in future grid scenarios and develop design criteria for technologies. The GSL will include flexible workstations and collaboration spaces, including Fellowship Labs, which will provide dedicated space for researchers to incubate storage technologies originating from the U.S. research and development community. Approximately 100 staff, representing a breadth of scientific disciplines, will work in the facility.

State of Washington support

In addition to federal funding, the state of Washington has committed $8.3 million for advanced research equipment and specialized instrumentation that will allow unparalleled insights into the behavior of battery materials during operation.

And the state’s Department of Commerce has signed a memorandum of understanding with DOE’s Office of Electricity to promote partnerships that will advance grid energy storage technologies, support the energy storage innovation ecosystem and share best practices with other states.

DOE selected PNNL as the host site for the GSL in August 2019, noting PNNL’s extensive work in grid energy storage and power grid modernization, as well as its research on improving battery performance, reliability and safety.

The GSL also supports DOE’s Energy Storage Grand Challenge, which draws on the extensive research capabilities of the DOE national laboratories, universities and industry to accelerate the development of energy-storage technologies and sustain American global leadership in the energy storage technologies of the future and a secure domestic manufacturing supply chain.

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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

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