Recent energy storage research findings
A new report, ‘Simulating the value of Concentrating Solar Power with Thermal Energy Storage in a Production Cost Model’ (8 January 2013) from the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has found that there are considerable benefits to be had from the utilization of CSP and available energy storage methods for an organisation’s optimal mix of energy sources.
The report states that: ‘CSP with TES, with an ability to store thermal energy in, say, molten salt, can use its heat energy to drive turbines at power plants over much longer stretches of the day.’
Expanding on this, Marissa Hummon, one of the authors of the NREL report, says: “CSP with thermal storage can continually reduce peak demand as the peak moves into evening. It continually maintains a high operational value and high capacity value.”
Mark Mehos, Manager of NREL’s CSP programme, comments: “We’ve known for a long time that CSP with storage adds significant value, however, we are now able to quantify this value in the language utilities understand.”
Latest developments in SA regarding CSP storage
In South Africa a great deal of research is being carried out by the Centre for Renewable & Sustainable Energy Studies at Stellenbosch University. Professor Wikus van Niekerk, Director of the Centre for Renewable & Sustainable Energy Studies, states that in the South African context, storage is of particular importance for two reasons – the country’s early peak in national energy demand, and the thermal inertia (measurement of responsiveness to variations in temperature) the CSP plants will provide to stabilise the grid.