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Southern Research, energy companies open Energy Storage Research Center

By Conor Ryan
Southern Research is formally opening its Energy Storage Research Center as an industrywide resource for testing and validating energy storage technologies. The center is located on Southern Research’s Oxmoor campus. Image: Southern Research

Southern Research officials, energy companies and other industry leaders were on hand last week in Alabama to formally open the Energy Storage Research Center (ESRC), a facility on Southern Research’s engineering campus where collaborative efforts will look to boost the development and deployment of energy storage technologies for the next generation. 

The ESRC was developed thanks to a collaborative effort between Southern Research, Southern Company and its Alabama Power subsidiary, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the US Department of Energy (DOE), DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the state of Alabama. 

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The facility will focus its efforts on grid-scale energy storage applications along with renewables in the Southeast region of the US. It will look to achieve its research goals through the development of joint energy storage research, demonstration and test projects.The ESRC will also help the energy storage sector as a whole evaluate emerging energy storage technologies. 

Imre Gyuk, Ph.D., director of energy storage research at DOE’s office of electricity, said: “The Energy Storage industry is experiencing ever increasing growth, but not all installations are successful in running effectively and providing economic return. A regional test center can provide needed validation of storage technologies as well as validation of business cases and benefit streams.”

The ESRC will serve as an independent research facility to provide third-party services on energy storage systems for technology vendors and users, along with other stakeholder groups.

Roxann Walsh, Southern Company research and development director, said: “As a leader in research and development, Southern Company is committed to advancing technologies that can help us continue to meet customer’s needs as the energy industry rapidly evolves. The Energy Storage Research Center will broaden our work with stakeholders and technology developers from across the industry to better understand energy storage systems and how to fully use this technology to build the future of energy.”

Mark McGranaghan, vice president, integrated grid, EPRI, added: “Energy storage is a critical technology to enable electric power strategies for decarbonization and resilience. Objective research into energy storage can help realize the environmental, economic and societal benefits of further renewable energy integration, electric transportation and other emerging energy technologies. We are pleased to be part of ESRC’s collaborative energy storage testing and analysis effort.”

The center currently features a flow battery system developed by Avalon Battery. A rechargeable flow battery stores energy directly in the electrolyte solution for longer cycle life and quick response times.

Bert Taube, Ph.D., energy storage and renewables program manager in Southern Research’s Energy & Environment division, added: “The ESRC represents a critical step of de-risking energy storage system deployments between the factory and the field through testing a range of technologies, systems and levels of integration applying a comprehensive staged test approach leveraging the unique ESRC software infrastructure with a platform for large-scale data collection and analysis to benchmark system functionality, safety and performance.”

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