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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Energy Department hopes to better leverage department-wide expertise to spur advances in energy storage, drive them into the market and ensure U.S. industry reaps the benefits.

Why it matters: Storage improvements are important for bringing high levels of renewables onto power grids and improving the performance and cost-competitiveness of electric vehicles, among other benefits.

Driving the news: Today, DOE is rolling out the "Energy Storage Grand Challenge."

DOE hopes to "create and sustain global leadership in energy storage utilization and exports, with a secure domestic manufacturing supply chain that does not depend on foreign sources of critical materials, by 2030," a summary states.

  • Senior officials tell Axios the effort will look at a range of technologies — new and improved battery chemistries, advancements in pumped hydro storage, thermal storage with molten salt, hydrogen and more.
  • The program is designed to coordinate the work of DOE's network of national labs and separate offices of science, electricity, energy efficiency and renewables and others.
  • Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette was slated to talk about it in remarks at the CES technology show in Las Vegas today. But DOE spokeswoman Kelly Love said that due to the "evolving situation with Iran," he'll instead be in Washington, D.C. as part of his National Security Council role.

It has five big goals over the next decade, per the summary:

  • Technology development with "ambitious, achievable" performance goals.
  • Technology transfer to speed up the process of moving from research to system design to use in the private sector.
  • "Policy and valuation" to enable the "most effective value proposition and use cases for storage technologies."
  • Bolstering the U.S. manufacturing and supply chain for storage technologies.
  • Workforce training to help U.S. workers "meet the needs of the 21st century electric grid and energy storage value chain."

The other side: DOE and the Trump administration have also more broadly sought to bolster federal support for incumbent fossil fuel technologies, including coal-fired power, that compete with renewables and electric vehicles.

  • The White House has spent years seeking to slash funding for clean energy technologies, while Congress hasn't gone along.
  • In fact, the administration has tried to eliminate funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency, one of the many offices involved with DOE's Research and Technology Investment Committee that's managing the new storage effort.

By the numbers: It's not clear how much will be spent specifically on the new program.

But Love said DOE's fiscal year 2020 spending on storage initiatives overall should be consistent with the average of roughly $400 million annually over the last three fiscal years. She declined to speculate on funding in subsequent years.

What's next: DOE is planning a "coordinated suite of research and development funding opportunities, prizes, partnerships, and other programs," per the announcement.

  • The first step will be a "request for information" to get outside feedback on the plans. The department is also planning workshops with to learn more about deployment barriers and "shape the work" that will help bring technologies to market.

Go deeper: The U.S. has the largest amount of new energy storage deployments ever

Editor's note: This story was updated with further information on DOE storage funding and to note that Brouillette is no longer speaking at the CES show in Las Vegas.

Go deeper

6 mins ago - World

Scoop: Ukraine tells senators post-invasion sanctions are no help

Zelensky. Photo: Johanna Geron/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told U.S. senators visiting Kyiv this week that waiting to impose sanctions on Russia until after an invasion is of no use to Ukraine, according to four sources familiar with the discussions.

Why it matters: The Senate is currently working on a major sanctions package to deter Russia from attacking Ukraine. Democrats and Republicans are united in their support for Ukraine, but divided over whether it would be more effective to sanction Russia now to signal resolve, or hold up the threat of future sanctions to demonstrate the high costs of an invasion.

Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Starbucks has dropped plans to require that U.S. workers get the COVID vaccine or submit to weekly testing, the company announced Tuesday in a memo to employees.

Why it matters: The company's decision comes in response to the Supreme Court's ruling last week to block the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

4 hours ago - World

Netanyahu plea talks enter crunch time

Netanyahu (right) meets with his lawyer ahead of a court hearing last February. Photo: Reuven Casto/Pool/AFP via Getty

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's opposition leader and former prime minister, is negotiating a possible plea deal over the corruption charges against him, but Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit appears to be toughening his terms.

Why it matters: Mandelblit leaves office on Jan. 31. Negotiations could continue beyond that point, but the next attorney general may be less interested in quickly reaching a deal.