How Long-Duration, Thermal Energy Storage Can Support the Grid of the Future

B. Bollinger
Malta, Inc.,
United States

Keywords: energy storage, ammonia, chemical synthesis, electrlytic synthesis


Electricity grids worldwide are undergoing an unprecedented rate of change in how electricity is both produced and consumed. As grid panners and operators seek to provide cleaner power at the reliability that our economy and society requires, they face a trifecta of challenges: (1) Co-location of generation and load is decreasing as the urban population grows and as cheap, renewable power is built out in far-flung sunny and windy places. (2) Co-incidence of generation and load is decreasing as electrification changes demand patterns and as generation portfolios increasingly rely on intermittent renewable resources. (3) Grid reliability and stability is in question as the percentage of traditional, proven means of enforcing stability—namely dispatchable synchronous generation—diminishes. Fortunately, technologies are emerging that can solve all three of these challenges simultaneously. Long-duration, thermal energy storage systems can deliver clean, affordable electricity when and where it is needed most. They assure the flexibility of the evolving electric grid by buffering intermittent renewable energy both temporally and geographically, and their rotating charge and discharge powertrains provide the same grid-stabilizing load-following and frequency-support characteristics of retiring fossil assets. This allows grid planners and utilities to employ clean solutions that they know will work to prevent our larger grids from experiencing the problems already seen in small and mid-sized grids around the world. Long-duration, thermal energy storage will help to build a clean energy economy and reach net-zero emissions by 2050.