Energy Transition Lab Hosts Energy Storage Summit

The University's interdisciplinary Energy Transition Lab (ETL), which is based at the Law School, held a summit on July 15 at which national and local experts examined the policy, technology, regulatory, and market drivers that affect energy storage in Minnesota. Of the more than 200 participants, roughly half were from the private sector, with the rest representing government, academia, and nonprofit organizations. Highlights included:

  • Keynote speaker Janice Lin, founder/managing partner of clean-energy firm Stratagen Consulting, discussed how California created and has begun to implement its ambitious energy storage mandate of 1.325 gigawatts by 2020. She pointed out that the current state of energy-storage technology and economics make for a compelling value proposition, and noted that storage can greatly improve grid quality and reliability and make renewable energy more valuable.
  • A panel of University scientists brought summit attendees up to speed on the latest innovations in batteries, flywheels, pumped hydro, and other storage technologies, while James Tong of Clean Power Finance described what our future energy grid will look like.
  • Professor Alexandra Klass moderated a panel—one of whose members was Professor Hari Osofsky, the ETL's faculty director—that provided an overview of the legal, regulatory, and market structures governing energy storage. One takeaway: energy storage doesn't fit neatly into most existing legal frameworks.
  • State utilities Xcel Energy, Minnesota Power, and Great River Energy, along with the Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Energy Association, shared lessons learned from their energy storage projects to date, while Minnesota Public Utilities Commissioner John Tuma (’88) spoke on related state regulatory issues.
  • Well-known Twin Cities meteorologist and entrepreneur Paul Douglas moderated a panel focusing on "The Business Case for Energy Storage."

"The energy storage market is growing fast, and Minnesota should be in the forefront," said Ellen Anderson (’86), executive director of the ETL. "The University's expertise in technology, law, policy, and electricity markets will contribute to innovative ideas for energy storage to improve our energy system. At the summit, the ETL served as a catalyst, bringing these experts together with individuals of similar ability and vision from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. The result was a fascinating and inspiring exchange of ideas that will help drive progress in this crucial area."

The ETL is jointly supported by the University's Office of the Vice President for Research, the Institute on the Environment, and the Law School. For more information on the summit and the ETL's other activities, visit