POWER December 2021 - 21

HYBRID POWER
Why Thermal Energy Storage
Offers Hot Prospects for Power
Thermal energy storage (TES) is gaining interest and traction as a crucial enabler of reliable,
secure, and flexible energy systems. The array of in-front-of-the-meter TES technologies
under development highlights the potential for demand shifting, variable supply integration,
sector integration, network management, and seasonal storage.
Sonal Patel
A
s the energy transition unfolds
worldwide, stakeholders across
the vast
power
system are
scrambling to identify solutions that
will sustainably uphold its most critical
attributes: energy security, affordability,
and environmental benefit. Driving
this quest is a complex set of factors,
foremost among them, perhaps, the urgency
to more smoothly and economically
incorporate the increasing share of
variable renewables.
While the energy storage sector has
burgeoned as a promising solution, its
stunning growth has centered mainly on
battery storage-storage using chemical
energy-given its applicational versatility
in the power, buildings, and transport
sectors. Stakeholders generally recognize,
however, that battery storage faces
cost limitations related to their shorter
lifespans and difficulty in leveraging
economies of scale in large volumes
over a prolonged period. Safety and supply
chain geopolitics are also growing
concerns. Pumped storage hydropower,
which relies on storage using water's potential
energy, may provide larger output
and variability, but costs are dependent
on terrain, and few suitable locations
remain. And while hydrogen energy
storage systems have received much
attention of late, large-scale projects
remain in the development phase, and
their high costs remain a concern.
As climate change ambitions size
up-and decarbonized outlooks increasingly
encapsulate and seek to couple
multiple industries-a notable spate of
activity is springing up around thermal
energy storage (TES) systems, a set of
energy storage technologies that leverage
the temporary storage of energy by
heating or cooling as a storage medium.
While TES has so far burgeoned mostly
behind the meter to store low-temperature
heat generated either through
electrically powered heat pumps or by
onsite solar thermal plants, demonstrations
suggest growing potential for
their wider commercial-scale use in the
power sector. These include hybridized
installations at power plants, including at
fossil, nuclear, and renewables facilities,
to help mitigate dips and spikes in output
and enable capacity firming, as well
as standalone installations on the grid,
where TES could enable load shifting.
Heat Storage: The Broader
Context
According to the International Renewable
Energy Agency (IRENA), a " growing
business case lies ahead of TES technologies. "
While IRENA has confirmed 234
GWh of TES already existed at the end of
2019, it projects that investments in the
range of $12.8 billion to $27.2 billion will
be sunk into TES over the next decade,
potentially expanding that capacity threefold
to at least 800 GWh. TES's biggest
allure, it said, is to provide flexibility when
considered from a " whole systems " approach.
" TES technologies offer unique
benefits, such as helping to decouple of
heating and cooling demand from immediate
power generation and supply
availability. The resulting flexibility allows
far greater reliance on variable renewable
sources, such as solar and wind power, "
IRENA explained. " TES thereby reduces
the need for costly grid reinforcements,
helps to balance seasonal demand and
supports the shift to a predominantly renewable-based
energy system. "
But despite its good posture, TES's
unique capacities lack the general market
awareness given to other energy storage
forms because many of its varying
technologies are still in the development
phase. That may require policy intervention
to ensure energy policymaking can
coherently support TES market competition,
and TES research and innovation,
IRENA suggested. TES technologies
generally fall into four distinct groups
based on their underlying principle of
operation: sensible heat storage, latent
heat storage, thermochemical heat storage,
and mechanical-thermal coupled
systems (Figure 1).
1. Operating temperatures and time ranges for select thermal energy storage technologies,
including cPCM (composite phase-change material), PCM (phase-change material), WTTES (water
tank thermal energy storage), UTES (underground thermal energy storage), and LAES (liquid
air energy storage). Courtesy: International Renewable Energy Agency
December 2021 | POWER
www.powermag.com
Sensible heat storage, the most commonly
deployed and commercially advanced
type of TES, essentially stores
thermal energy by heating or cooling
a storage medium (liquid or solid) without
changing its phase. " The amount of
stored energy is proportional to the temperature
change (rise or fall) on charging,
within the operational temperature
range, and the thermal capacity of the
material, " IRENA says. Examples include
tank thermal energy storage, using water
as a storage medium; solid-state thermal
21
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POWER December 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of POWER December 2021

POWER December 2021 - Cover1
POWER December 2021 - Cover2
POWER December 2021 - 1
POWER December 2021 - 2
POWER December 2021 - 3
POWER December 2021 - 4
POWER December 2021 - 5
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POWER December 2021 - SCover1
POWER December 2021 - SCover2
POWER December 2021 - S1
POWER December 2021 - S2
POWER December 2021 - S3
POWER December 2021 - S4
POWER December 2021 - S5
POWER December 2021 - S6
POWER December 2021 - S7
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POWER December 2021 - SCover3
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POWER December 2021 - Cover3
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