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 CollinsOvernight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Senators revive effort to create McCain human rights commission 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 CornynWillie Nelson on supporting O'Rourke: 'Anything he wants to do, I'm with Beto' Willie Nelson on supporting O'Rourke: 'Anything he wants to do, I'm with Beto' Koch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner 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.”

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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 TrumpGOP senator introduces bill to hold online platforms liable for political bias Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally 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 HeinrichOvernight Energy: Democrats ask if EPA chief misled on vehicle emissions | Dem senators want NBC debate focused on climate change | 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan Democratic senators want NBC primary debate to focus on climate change Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' 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 TillisKoch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner Koch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments MORE (R-N.C.) has discussed solar legislation, though his office said a bill would not be released immediately. Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care: Poll finds most Americans misunderstand scope of 'Medicare for All' | Planned Parenthood chief readies for 2020 | Drugmakers' lawsuit ramps up fight with Trump Overnight Health Care: Poll finds most Americans misunderstand scope of 'Medicare for All' | Planned Parenthood chief readies for 2020 | Drugmakers' lawsuit ramps up fight with Trump Trump's health care focus puts GOP on edge 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.