At first blush, it seems downright unnatural to think about the sun and ice in a symbiotic relationship, but one company has done just that. We’ve used thermal energy in industrial and commercial heating and cooling for many years. Chillers are used to make ice or cold water off-peak and then use that stored capacity to cool buildings or processes on peak. The result is lower cooling costs and reduced demand on the utility for peaking capacity. What if the ice making process could be powered with solar energy at times of excess generation? Ice Energy has a product compatible for this very use.
Ice Energy has been working in the commercial sector for over 15 years providing thermal energy storage systems to utilities and private clients to manage air conditioning load. Ice Energy’s system uses an “ice battery” which makes ice at the most efficient time and then typically during peak hours AC compressors are turned off and the stored ice is used for cooling up to six hours. Ice Energy’s storage system is equipped with a smart-grid controller and bi-directional communications allowing utilities real-time control and visibility. The company’s website explains that Individual units, custom groupings or entire fleets can be dispatched to shift or optimize cooling loads.
A little over a year ago, Ice Energy announced a residential scale thermal storage system that the company believes is ideally suited to be paired with a PV system. Dubbed the Ice Cub, the system performs the same duties as a conventional HVAC system. The magic is that the thermal storage system has a charge time of four hours, making it possible to recharge the high efficiency ice storage system off-peak or with solar over generation during the day.
You can learn more about Ice Energy’s thermal storage capabilities here: https://www.ice-energy.com/grid/.