BRITE Energy Innovators

Study says Northern Appalachia is poised to be energy storage hub, pointing to region’s unique strengths

Study includes 32 counties in Ohio, 52 in Pennsylvania, and 55 in West Virginia


Warren, OH – In the last decade, innovators throughout the world have made significant advancements in energy storage.  Energy storage refers to the capture of energy to be used at a later time – – and it’s moved to the front of U.S. strategies to decarbonize.  

Northern Appalachia is a region that has long been associated with energy and natural resources, especially for coal and natural gas.  It is evolving rapidly in response to changes in the energy and manufacturing sectors both in the United States and globally.  Here in this region, energy storage is opening the door to exciting new opportunities which will fundamentally transform how energy is generated and delivered.  

Energy Storage Roadmap for Northern Appalachia 2022, a comprehensive study released by BRITE Energy Innovators and Cleveland State University’s Energy Policy Center, is a roadmap to guide stakeholders in this region to foster the growth of the energy storage industry and asserts that the region encompassing 139 counties in Eastern Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, and all of West Virginia is a prime locale for energy storage innovation and manufacturing clusters in the future.  

The 139 counties include several metropolitan areas, including Pittsburgh, Erie, Youngstown, Scranton, Charleston, and Huntington.  The counties identified form around 45% of Pennsylvania’s population, 17% of Ohio’s, and 100% of West Virginia’s.  

Within the detailed study, some highlights that are discussed include:

  • Trends in energy storage markets
  • Commercial and structural assets within Northern Appalachia that make us a leader
  • Energy storage technologies and how we use them
  • Recommendations to policymakers committed to the energy storage industry
  • Opportunities for growth, such as a formal market validation program for energy-related startups; challenges that may impede cluster development

Some key takeaways from the study suggest that Northern Appalachia has assets that make it suitable for energy storage cluster development including a “low cost of living compared to competitor metropolitan areas and over 200 commercial businesses with capacity to be involved in a regional energy storage industry.”  It also states that the area’s “strength as a manufacturing hub can help position the region as a leader in manufacturing for transportation-related energy storage in the near future.”  

Sara Daugherty, BRITE’s Chief of Staff said her organization commissioned the study to guide stakeholders in this region to foster the growth of its energy storage industry.  BRITE, she noted, is committed to making Northern Appalachia a key area for energy storage, as new doors are opening in the energy and manufacturing sectors.  

Daugherty went on to say, “As we’re part of national conversations to re-shore manufacturing and secure a domestic supply chain, this study confirms how Northern Appalachia not only compliments but is critical for the creation, production, and adoption of energy storage technologies, she remarked.  “For instance, the study identifies how our region is positioned for the uptick in lithium-battery manufacturing for the transportation sector.”

“Northern Appalachia’s legacy in the energy industry makes it a natural fit for the development of energy storage manufacturing clusters,” said Mark Henning, a research associate at Energy Policy Center at Cleveland State University, and the lead author of the study.  “These legacies have led directly to occupational specialization in key engineering and technical fields compared to the U.S. in general.  This, coupled with the low cost of doing business in Northern Appalachia, gives the region a strategic advantage for cluster development for energy storage.  This is further supported by the research culture found in the regional universities and laboratories.”

Andrew Thomas, director of the Energy Policy Center at Cleveland State, and co-author of the study, further noted that, “It is important that the region now capitalizes on its structural advantages by looking at the recommendations in this study.  Some of these follows those suggested in the U.S. Department of Energy Storage Roadmap while some are specific to this area, such as adopting policies in the PJM regional transmission organization that drive local use of energy storage technologies.”

 “The West Virginia University Energy Institute is pleased to have contributed to this study,” said Sam Taylor, Assistant Director for Strategic Partnerships and Technology.  “The Energy Institute is coordinating research and development of advanced energy concepts to benefit West Virginia, including the production of blue hydrogen and carbon dioxide sequestration and the potential deployment of energy production resources using former mine sites.”

The entire study is available for viewing and download here:

About BRITE: BRITE Energy Innovators is powering the future of energy across the State of Ohio. As the state’s only energy incubator, we have assisted nearly 600 new energy tech startups with mentorship and funding assistance of more than $230 million in public and private investment, creating more than 1,100 jobs. We empower founders to launch energy technology solutions. By fusing experienced experts in residence, advanced equipment in the BRITE Energy Labs, and community coworking spaces in Warren, we create opportunities for all Ohioans. 

About the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs:

The Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees in fields that guide and advance vibrant and sustainable communities, including urban studies, public administration, urban planning, environmental studies, nonprofit management, and organizational leadership. Levin is recognized as one of the best public affairs schools in the nation according to US News & World Report. Levin is ranked 3rd in the US in the specialty of Urban Planning and Policy, 7th in the specialty of Local Government Management, and maintains a strong standing in the specialty of Nonprofit Management.

About The Energy Institute at West Virginia University:

The Energy Institute at West Virginia University is a proven leader in coordinating large-scale, multidisciplinary energy and environmental research.  The Energy Institute partners WVU researchers with federal, state and local governments, as well as industry, for strategic collaborations that empower smart energy policy, economic development and clean technologies in an evolving global energy landscape.

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