Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation'

Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump on US coronavirus risks: 'We're very, very ready for this' GOP, Democrats hash out 2020 strategy at dueling retreats Chamber looks to support Democratic allies in 2020 MORE (R-Maine) is introducing a bill Wednesday to boost the reliability of wind and solar electricity, one of the first of what may be several Republican energy bills in the pipeline.

Collins’s bill looks to provide $60 million annually for five years toward developing batteries and other types of next-generation storage as a backstop for intermittent generation.

The bill comes as other Republicans, who have hailed innovation as the strategy for solving global warming, say they are working on crafting energy legislation that could serve as the party’s alternative to the progressive Green New Deal.

“I expect there’ll be a number of bills that will make up an effort to show that we do have a good alternative, actually a better alternative, to the $93 trillion Green New Deal,” Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP, Democrats hash out 2020 strategy at dueling retreats Congress eyes killing controversial surveillance program Hillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 MORE (R-Texas) told reporters last week when discussing his future proposal to deal with carbon capture. “The goal, of course, is to foster innovation in order to maintain U.S. energy independence while reducing emissions.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Solar and wind are a rapidly growing portion of the energy sector but still face challenges in supporting all U.S. electric needs.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Congress eyes billion to billion to combat coronavirus Sanders makes the case against Biden ahead of SC primary MORE has downplayed wind power, suggesting once that it doesn't always work and that Americans would be unable to watch TV if the wind stopped blowing.

Energy experts say the U.S. will need more reliable battery storage if the country becomes more reliant on wind and solar generation.

Collins’s bill would support research and development on batteries through the Department of Energy that could store excess energy supplied to the grid and disperse it over three stages. Short-term batteries would be used to store energy for just a few hours, perhaps saving solar energy from the middle of the day to help serve increased demand once people start returning home from work. Mid-range batteries could be used to store energy for several days to help offset a cloudy day or week. The final type of battery would be used to address seasonal concerns with energy production.

Though the storage options could be used for any type of electric generation, a staff member for the senator said they view the bill as a way to boost renewables that generate electricity intermittently.

Collins’s bill will be sponsored alongside Sen. Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichSenate report says Obama officials were 'not well-postured' to respond to Russian hacking Democratic senators ask banks to prohibit funding Arctic drilling Senate drama surrounding Trump trial starts to fizzle MORE (D-N.M.), and they are still looking for additional co-sponsors.

Other Republican efforts on energy are coming together more slowly.

Cornyn’s legislation is designed to incentivize the research and development of new technology for carbon capture natural gas. Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisChamber looks to support Democratic allies in 2020 The Hill's Campaign Report: What to watch for in Nevada Top GOP super PAC spent money on NC Democrat MORE (R-N.C.) has discussed solar legislation, though his office said a bill would not be released immediately. Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderLawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response Bill Barr is trying his best to be Trump's Roy Cohn The Trump administration's harmful and immoral attack on children MORE (R-Tenn.) earlier this year pitched a Manhattan Project for climate change, a throwback to the World War II program that developed the first nuclear weapons.