Benchmarking of U.S. Battery Testing Facilities
We conducted a preliminary benchmarking study to identify and describe test facilities across the United States for potential grid-integrated energy storage technologies. The goal of the study was to provide a foundation to better understand the range of existing test facilities, who they serve, and how they operate. We included test facilities designed to advance the design of new battery cell technologies, as well as facilities designed to advance new battery systems towards commercially viable products. The work was conducted for the benefit of the special legislative Battery Commission established in Section 134 in Chapter 47 in the Acts of 2017.
We identified thirteen test facilities, of which five operate in association with a university, six operate as National Laboratories within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and two operate otherwise within the federal government or as a private entity. Existing university-based facilities generally focus on testing pilot-scale cell prototypes and/or prototype systems closer to commercialization. These labs commonly serve industry, entrepreneurs or researchers using a membership and/or fee-for-service model. DOE-supported National Laboratories focus on early-stage research of novel technologies, rarely venturing beyond pilot-scale proofs-of-concept. They assist small private businesses, but these collaborations primarily require applications to grants or other programs, as opposed to an open fee-for-service model.
The extent to which these available test facilities sufficiently address the technology development needs and can adequately serve and encourage a Massachusetts energy storage cluster will require further investigation. Gaps in scope or geographical convenience may create opportunities for a test facility in Massachusetts. Coordinating a test facility with research institutions, clean energy incubators, and advanced manufacturing in Massachusetts should be further explored.