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Berkeley Lab Part of Energy Department Team Selected as DOE’s Batteries and Energy Storage Hub

Berkeley, Calif., Nov. 30, 2012 – U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu was joined in Chicago today by Illinois’ Senator Dick Durbin and Governor Pat Quinn, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to announce that a multi-partner team led by Argonne National Laboratory, and which includes Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), has been selected for an award of up to $120 million over five years to establish a new Batteries and Energy Storage Hub. The Hub, to be known as the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), will combine the R&D firepower of five DOE national laboratories, five universities, and four private firms in an effort aimed at achieving revolutionary advances in battery performance. Advancing next generation battery and energy storage technologies for electric and hybrid cars and the electricity grid are a critical part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil and lower energy costs for U.S. consumers.

“This is a partnership between world leading scientists and world leading companies, committed to ensuring that the advanced battery technologies the world needs will be invented and built right here in America,” said Secretary Chu.  “Based on the tremendous advances that have been made in the past few years, there are very good reasons to believe that advanced battery technologies can and will play an increasingly valuable role in strengthening America’s energy and economic security by reducing our oil dependence, upgrading our aging power grid, and allowing us to take greater advantage of intermittent energy sources like wind and solar.”

Venkat Srinivasan, Berkeley Lab's lead in JCESR (Photo: Roy Kaltschmidt)

Venkat Srinivasan, Berkeley Lab's lead in JCESR (Photo: Roy Kaltschmidt)

“The energy storage hub will leverage Berkeley Lab’s core strengths in team science and in materials and chemistry for energy innovation. We’re confident that the expertise Berkeley Lab researchers bring to the JCESR partnership will help this new hub make great strides toward national energy solutions,” said Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos.

The State of Illinois is providing $5 million through its Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction plan to help build the state-of-the-art JCESR facility, which will be located on the Argonne National Laboratory campus in suburban Chicago. Additionally, that state’s governor has committed to working with the General Assembly to provide an additional $30 million in future capital funding for the building, which will serve as a nationwide center for energy storage research.

The new Hub will integrate efforts at several successful independent research programs into a larger, coordinated effort designed to push the limits on battery advances.  Advancements in batteries and energy storage technology are essential for continued efforts to develop a fundamentally new energy economy with decisively reduced dependence on imported oil.  Improved storage will be vital to fully integrating intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind and solar into the electrical grid.  It will also be critical to transitioning the transportation sector to more flexible grid power.

JCESR (pronounced “J-Caesar”) will be directed by George W. Crabtree, Argonne Senior Scientist, Distinguished Fellow and Associate Division Director.

Behind the Scenes of Berkeley Lab’s Battery Labs

The Hub will bring together some of the most advanced energy storage research programs in the U.S. today.  Other national labs partnering with Argonne and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory include Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.  University partners include Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois-Chicago, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, and University of Michigan. Four industrial partners have also joined to help clear a path to the marketplace for the advances developed at JCESR, including Dow Chemical Company; Applied Materials, Inc.; Johnson Controls, Inc.; and Clean Energy Trust.

“I am proud to support Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s contributions to this collaboration that will make critical advances in hybrid and electric vehicle technologies,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA). “Berkeley Labs’ essential role in this project highlights the important role the East Bay plays in rebuilding the nation’s economy of the future driven by innovative green technology.”

“The Silicon Valley Leadership Group is excited to support the efforts of the Hub to develop next generation batteries to make electric vehicles and clean energy technologies more efficient,” said Carl Guardino, CEO of the 375-member Silicon Valley Leadership Group. “This public-private partnership between our national laboratories, universities, and member companies is exactly what we need to drive collaboration and innovation in the clean energy space.”

The establishment of JCESR follows a Berkeley Lab announcement earlier this year creating a partnership to create CalCharge, a consortium uniting California Bay Area’s emerging and established battery technology companies with critical academic and government resources. CalCharge aims to create a regional ecosystem for innovation in energy storage.

“With this hub and the creation of CalCharge, there’s real momentum now towards making some progress in this important field,” said Berkeley Lab’s Venkat Srinivasan, who will lead Berkeley Lab’s involvement in JCESR. “We can all envision electric vehicles that travel hundreds of miles on a charge, or a battery to store electricity from solar panels for use at night, and JCESR will move us one big step closer to achieving those goals.”

Selected through an open national competition with a rigorous merit review process that relied on outside expert reviewers, JCESR is the fourth Energy Innovation Hub established by the Energy Department since 2010. Berkeley Lab is a leading partner with Caltech on the Fuels From Sunlight Hub while other Hubs are devoted to modeling and simulation of nuclear reactors, and achieving major improvements in the energy efficiency of buildings. A fifth Hub focused on critical materials research was announced earlier this year and is still in the application process.

To read the full DOE release, go here.

For a recent OpEd by Srinivasan in the San Jose Mercury News, go here.

For more on JCESR, go here.

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Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world’s most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. For more, visit www.lbl.gov.

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