December 10, 2018

New Collaborative Emerges to Help Advance Energy Storage

PNNL provides leadership for timely deployment of safe energy storage technology

Energy Storage Safety Collaborative

In the future, large-scale energy storage systems, featuring the latest of a fast-evolving technology, will be installed in a wide range of locations to store and make power available when needed. Documenting and validating the safety of these systems will be governed by codes and standards criteria that, in many cases, have not yet been developed, or if developed, not yet adopted.

“With energy storage technology research, development, and deployment proceeding at a rapid pace, it’s critical that codes, standards, and related guidelines be developed and in place to provide the needed guidance to enable safe siting, installation, and operation of such systems,” says PNNL Engineer David Conover. “Likewise, guidance must be developed for first responders and others to address associated hazards, such as potential fires or treatment of any hazardous materials.”

It’s not unusual for a time lag between technology development and deployment and the availability of updated codes and standards. Until gaps in codes and standards are filled, a challenge exists to uniformly and reliably document and validate the safety of energy storage systems.

Stakeholder Engagement is Key

Conover believes recent enhancements to a Department of Energy (DOE)-supported working group he has been involved with will help advance safe energy storage technology and bridge those gaps. PNNL and Sandia National Laboratories recently announced that the Energy Storage Safety Working Group, which the two national laboratories have been hosting for several years and is funded by the Office of Electricity’s Energy Storage Program at DOE, will now be known as the Energy Storage Safety Collaborative. The new focus will be on stronger collaboration among all stakeholders associated with energy storage technology, from development and deployment to incident response and more. Conover was the lead on PNNL’s involvement with the prior working group, and will continue in that role with the new collaborative.

“With any new technology, ensuring the information necessary to readily document and verify the safety of that technology can be complicated and extremely time consuming. There are many safety-related issues that must be addressed, which vary as a function of technology type, size, location, and a number of other factors,” Conover explains.

He notes that codes and standards, typically developed at the national level by the private sector with governmental participation, are adopted through different entities and mechanisms and provide a basis for technical communication and addressing safety issues. Because of the variables associated with energy storage technology, considerable work is needed to update codes and standards. “And just when it appears the job is done, the technology or its application evolves, creating the need to again update those codes and standards as well as the resources available to support their application and use,” Conover says.

Collaborative Offers Strong Stakeholder Focus

“I view this safety collaborative as a re-booting of our efforts in support of energy storage technology safety,” Conover says. “The working group performed an important function, but for the most part the core work was spearheaded by PNNL and Sandia staff with involvement of working group members on selected projects—if they chose to participate.

“With a new focus on collaboration,” he continues, “We’re hoping that we can be successful in engaging with more individuals representing a wide range of stakeholders, such as manufacturers, contractors, unions, code officials, and many others. We want to create a level of synergy and ownership that leads to an activity that is more proactive and working at the forefront of energy storage safety issues.”

He envisions PNNL and Sandia facilitating communications through the collaborative and helping those in the group to work together to identify and conduct activities that will foster the timely development and deployment of safe energy storage technology.

Conover says all interested and affected parties are encouraged to participate in the Energy Storage Safety Collaborative and can contact him for more information at


About PNNL

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory draws on its distinguishing strengths in chemistry, Earth sciences, biology and data science to advance scientific knowledge and address challenges in sustainable energy and national security. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit For more information on PNNL, visit PNNL's News Center. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.