University of Washington to Open Clean Energy Test Beds

The path from research discovery to innovative product has many turns. Among the key milestones is the prototype stage where potential breakthrough products are tested at scale.

The Clean Energy Institute is planning a regional test bed facility that will assist in the scale-up, prototyping, testing, and validating of clean energy innovations. The testbeds will be used by UW faculty and student researchers as well as others at the state’s leading companies and research institutions.

The goal of the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds is to reduce the capital and risk associated with launching new products and companies, enabling Washington state to capture more of the economic value of research discoveries.

“In energy, the ability to prototype and test at scale is critical, as products and companies in this industry are immensely capital intensive to launch,” according to CEI Director Dan Schwartz.

“Here, companies will be able to invest in the next phase of research and development, working side-by-side with the researchers and inventors to build strong technology teams. We believe these partnerships and facilities will bolster our region and attract strategic partners to our state.”

For example, the test beds will allow researchers from academia and industry to ability to test materials at the scale of a solar panel, fabricate and rigorously test batteries that store renewable energy or run electric vehicles, and test hardware and software operating systems to be deployed at utility scale.

The CEI has engaged a wide range of university faculty, small and large industry in the region, as well as national research institutions like the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The current focus in on test beds in three integrated disciplines:

Research Training Testbed –Integrated with educational programs to prepare the next generation of innovators.


Scale-up and Characterization Testbed — Facilities to evaluate manufacturing processes and develop prototype products with validated performance.


System Integration Testbed — A flexible, commercial-scale, clean energy system with plug and play replacement of software and hardware components to test performance as part of an operating system.


The scale-up and characterization and system integration testbed will be located at the Bowman Building, adjacent to University Village in Seattle. Design and planning of the test bed facility was funded by the Washington State Legislature in the 2015 capital budget. The CEI planning process is now complete and construction will start in spring 2016 with operational facilities expected in 2017.

For more information on the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds and the planning process, contact CEI Director Dan Schwartz.