HELPS SMOOTH OUT INTERMITTENT THERMAL SOURCES
Thermal energy storage allows renewable energy to be utilized more consistently, increasing efficiency and reducing supporting infrastructure.
Storing heat or cold for later use
Thermal energy storage technologies keep thermal energy for later use in heating and cooling systems and power generation — either when supply is low or in different seasons when the temperature changes — by heating or cooling a storage medium. There are a wide variety of storage technologies in use to capture thermal energy (heat and cold) to use during off peak times, including using molten salt, ice, liquefied air, earth, holes in bedrock, tanks, and more.
<div class=”img_cap”>Photo Credit: Enwave Energy Corp.</div>
REDUCES PEAK DEMAND
Thermal energy can be retrieved from storage when demand outstrips supply, costly utility peak rates apply, or seasonally when the temperature changes.
CUTS BIGGEST ELECTRICITY HOG
Cold thermal storage helps to address air conditioning loads — the single biggest contributor to grid stress for electricity utilities. Using cold thermal storage lessens the amount of energy required by air conditioners, which often coincides with costly electricity system peak demand rates.
COSTLY TO BUILD
Thermal storage is sometimes expensive, unless there are naturally occuring storage mediums (ie. body of water). It is difficult to create a thermally-efficient storage system and the costs reflect that effort.
DENSITY IS DIFFICULT
It can be difficult to design and source a system with high thermal storage density: There are many types of materials that can be used for thermal storage, but the cost vs efficiency tradeoff can prove to be difficult to choose an optimal solution.
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