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Researchers See Potential in Advancing Energy Storage Technology at Syracuse Conference

John Smith/WAERNews

Experts who want to develop the next cutting-edge technology to support the power grid, electronic devices and electric cars are at the Energy Storage Technology conference Thursday at Marriott Syracuse Downtown.

Held by New York Best, the annual event brought together some of the best researchers on energy storage systems in the world.

Bill Acker, executive director at New York Best, said main businesses are now implementing the technology.

“Energy storage is really going to transform the electricity grid (and) how we actually use electricity,” Acker said. “As we see more new renewable power coming on, we’re going to need renewable energy storage but beyond the renewable power, reliability and reducing peak load, smoothing it out… making energy usage more efficient.”

Acker said businesses are seeing very good ROI in New York City, where companies not only pay for the amount of electricity they consume but additionally for peaks in usage.

George Crabtree, the director of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, said they’re investigating how to go beyond lithium-ion batteries, which he said are the driver of the transformation.

He said batteries can be transformative in two ways: personal electronics such as laptops, cell phones depending on lithium-ion batteries and electric cars which Crabtree said  are much cheaper to drive.

“We’d like to see a twenty thousand dollar all electric car that goes 200 miles or more,” Crabtree said. “That’s the transformative goal.”

Crabtree said lithium-ion batteries are competitive with gasoline cars and gas turbines generating electricity.

“I don’t think we’re transformational yet,” he said.

Credit John Smith
Joint Center for Energy Storage Research's director George Crabtree

But Crabtree said he believes lithium-ion battery can go forward to the transformational tipping point where innovation brings changes to the society.

Next-generation batteries can have the same effect on transportation and the grid than lithium ion batteries had on cellphones, laptops and personal computers, Crabtree said.

When SONY introduced the first lithium-ion battery in 1991, Crabtree said the revolution powered the idea of smartphone developers a decade later in the early 2000’s.

“That changed the way society operates,” Crabtree said. “It’s that kind of transformation I think we need the next generation battery for when it comes to cars and the grid.”

Companies interested in finding out more about energy storage development and current storage options can visit

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.