The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) will lead three projects for advanced, bulk energy storage following selection by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for awards totaling US$600,000. The projects will study innovative, non-battery solutions to bulk energy storage that are integrated with fossil assets, supporting a cleaner integrated energy network.
Large-scale energy storage options are key to increasing the amount of variable renewable energy on the grid, while also helping to reduce carbon emissions and maintain the availability of reliable and flexible power.
"Investing in research and development (R&D) to improve energy storage is critical at this moment in time," said Neva Espinoza, EPRI vice president for energy supply and low-carbon resources. "Innovations in energy storage, along with advancements in alternative low-carbon fuels, will contribute to a grid that is both reliable and resilient. This is essential to reaching a cleaner energy future."
The projects will evaluate opportunities for deployment of thermal energy storage using liquid salt, sand, and crushed rock to capture heat from fossil generation units and store that energy during periods of low power prices. When prices increase, the energy storage system can produce power to supplement the fossil unit, creating peaking opportunities without putting additional stress on the system from ramping up and down.
The three EPRI-led projects will explore:
- A pilot-scale liquid salt combined-cycle unit: The study will develop a design for the system to be integrated into a natural gas power plant and evaluate its costs and performance to potentially advance it closer to commercial deployment.
- Sand thermal energy storage: The project will perform a feasibility study for integrating this storage technology into a coal power plant and to explore how this technology can work in conjunction with any fossil source, as well as nuclear, solar thermal, and electrical heating from renewables.
- Crushed rock as a cost-effective medium: The project will perform a feasibility study for the integration of a pilot-scale crushed rock thermal energy storage system with a natural gas power plant. The pilot represents a next-to-last demonstration before the technology can be commercially ready.
EPRI is collaborating with nine industry organizations to lead these studies, three of which are major U.S. power generators providing potential host sites for the design assessments.