August MSU symposium to highlight future of energy storage

Contact: Zack Plair

STARKVILLE, Miss.--Mississippi State officials say the university is positioned to help shape the future of energy storage in the Southeast region.

A conference on campus next month will help frame the conversation for what the region's future holds, they added.

MSU, in conjunction with the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, a Department of Energy Innovation Hub led by Lemont, Illinois-based Argonne National Laboratory, is sponsoring an Aug. 12 and 13 symposium at the new Mill at MSU Conference Center on Russell Street in Starkville. Speakers and panelists will be examining energy storage opportunities that could help local utilities and agricultural operations while improving resiliency to natural disasters.

The event kicks off with a 6-8 p.m. reception on the 12th, according to Pedro Mago, conference committee chair and head of the mechanical engineering department. The second day begins with registration and a continental breakfast at 7:30 a.m., followed by sessions taking place through 4:15 p.m.

Mago said newly elected U.S. Rep Trent Kelly will be the featured speaker at a networking luncheon. A Tupelo resident, Kelly represents the 1st Congressional District that includes much of the northern part of Mississippi.

The symposium also will include the announcement of a strategic partnership between MSU and Argonne for joint research in energy storage, according to MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development David Shaw. A partnership memorandum of understanding will be signed by MSU President Mark E. Keenum and Argonne representatives, he added.

"Mississippi State University has a strong partnership with Argonne National Laboratory in developing the next generations of energy storage technologies," Shaw said. "This symposium will bring together the brightest minds from the entire Southeast region to discuss both the needs and latest advances in energy storage research."

Since the Southeast is highly susceptible to tornadoes, hurricanes and other weather events and natural disasters, residents' access to power supplies often are lost or threatened, said Mike Mazzola, holder of the Jack Hatcher Chair for Entrepreneurship in MSU's electrical and computer engineering department.

Noting that electrical power disruptions typically present the biggest challenge for victims in the aftermath of a disaster, Mazzola said the symposium will explore new power-storage and portable-energy technologies that would be more resilient to catastrophes.

He said speakers and panelists also would be focusing on how smaller cities and rural communities could economically use renewable resources like solar and wind power to cut costs and become more energy efficient.

"Importing it; that's the real answer for most places," Mazzola said. "People typically don't live where the wind is. There probably are reasons for that, but energy storage with wind, where it can economically be taken to the areas that need it, becomes competitive."

MSU and the federal representatives will be joined at the symposium by colleagues from the Tennessee Valley Authority, Entergy and the Southern Co.

Other program topics will include ways farmers and others in agriculture may be helped and save money by turning to solar power; and how new storage technologies could help wind energy become competitive in the market.

Emphasizing that the symposium isn't just for "technical specialists," Mazzola expressed hope that the major MSU event also will draw other academic researchers and energy industry leaders, along with many others who might play a role in the positive impact of future energy-storage technologies.

"Many other utility organizations, including electric cooperatives and municipal utilities, and even public officials may be interested in this," he said.

Mago said early-bird registration for the symposium is $125 through July 24; after that, $150. Students may register for $50 each.

Online signup may be completed at or by printing a website form and submitting it by mail. A complete symposium agenda and other information also is found at the site.

For more about the MSU Energy Institute, see

To learn more about the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, go to

MSU, Mississippi's flagship research university, is online at,, and

Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 12:00 am