The Department of Energy sprinkled its funds all over the place in its latest round for storage grants.
A total of $83.1 million went to 11 projects centered around batteries in grants issued today by the Department of Energy. The DOE, however, also issued $60 million worth of grants to three energy storage projects and $28.1 million into flywheels. In all, the DOE awarded $185 million to 16 projects.
Storage projects for wind farms received $60.8 million of the total.
What is interesting here is the variety. In all, the DOE gave $31.6 million to six different flow-battery projects. Flow-battery projects received more grants than any other technology. Startups participating in these projects include Primus Power, which got $14 million to help it build a $46 million flow-battery farm for the irrigation district near Modesto, Calif., and Premium Power, which is building a flow-battery system for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.
Only three lithium-ion battery projects got funded this time. However, the grant to Southern California Edison for an 8-megawatt lithium-ion battery station came to $25 million. (The total project comes to $53.5 million.) The SCE grant brought the total for lithium-ion projects to $37.1 million, or more than the total given to flow batteries. (Side note: SCE and Austin Energy, which were shut out in the first round of smart grid grants, both received grants this time around.) A123 Systems, a winner today as in previous rounds, saw its stock rebound from below $15 to in the $17s.
Two other battery projects received funding: a sodium battery project in Pittsburgh propounded by 44 Tech and another Pennsylvania project based around a lead-carbon "ultrabattery."
Three compressed-air storage projects got grants. The compressed-air grants, however, only cover less than half of the total cost of their projects. Pacific Gas & Electric, for instance, received $25 million for the 300-megawatt compressed-air facility it wants to build. The total cost of the project will come to $355 million. The New York State Electric and Gas corporation pulled in $29.6 million for a compressed-air system in an existing salt cavern in Bingampton. The total cost, however, will come to $125 million.
Compressed air is the cheapest form of energy storage according to some researchers, particularly if air can be stored in existing geological formations. (Adding capacity can also lower the costs in these systems.) Still, others are looking at less geology-dependent ideas. SustainX, which wants to build above-ground compressed-air storage, received a $5.4 grant for a $10.8 million project.
In flywheels, Beacon Power was the big winner, participating in a 20-megawatt project in Massachusetts.