UW News

September 8, 2015

UW hosts Pacific Northwest energy storage symposium on Sept. 11

Energy storage symposium logoGone are the days when electricity flowed only in one direction — from huge power plants to homes and businesses — and entirely on demand. Today, homeowners who install solar panels can sell extra electricity back to the grid. Savvy industries save money by timing and controlling energy use. Renewable energy sources are multiplying.

Yet moving toward a more efficient and sustainable system hinges on the ability to store energy for when it’s needed most, which is the topic of a symposium to be held at the University of Washington on Sept. 11.

Transforming the Future: A Symposium on the Science and Technology of Energy Storage in the Pacific Northwest” will bring together researchers, students, government regulators, energy entrepreneurs, utilities and industry experts to share success stories, cutting-edge research and regional challenges in energy storage.

Recently, market analyst GTM Research named Washington and Oregon to a list of “five states where energy storage could thrive.” The symposium will address regional barriers and opportunities for wider deployment of those technologies, including: energy storage research needs, commercialization opportunities and challenges in the Pacific Northwest and strategies to finance energy storage technology deployment.

The one-day symposium is jointly sponsored by the UW Clean Energy Institute, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Washington State University, and the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR).

Energy storage is crucial for everything from integrating intermittent power from wind, sun and water into the existing grid to creating a more sustainable transportation system that’s less reliant on fossil fuels.

“Today, we have companies putting solar panels on roofs and large scale batteries in warehouses so they can control how they interact with the energy market. Transportation is becoming more electrified, and that also requires batteries,” said Dan Schwartz, director of the UW’s Clean Energy Institute and the Boeing-Sutter Professor of Chemical Engineering.

“All of this will create a much more efficient economy than burning fossil fuels on demand, but that means we have to think differently and have the ability to store and share energy,” Schwartz said.

The symposium will feature speakers from utilities, state and federal government agencies, entrepreneurs, policymakers, as well as university and national laboratory researchers.

One goal is to help connect academics and students working in energy storage with analysts and investors who can help bring those ideas to market. Conversely, investors and policymakers will have a chance to learn about leading edge research that could translate into game-changing technologies.

“We’re starting to put all the pieces together in the Northwest, and this is going to be an opportunity to cement some of those ties more strongly,” said Schwartz. “No matter where you fit in the landscape of translating energy from molecules to markets, you’ll be able to get that 360-degree perspective.”

Media are welcome to attend. Contact Renee Gastineau at (206) 685-6833 or gastinr@uw.edu to register.