A primary challenge of meeting the increased demand in energy is that energy supply and accessibility isn’t consistent throughout different geographical areas. Availability of energy sources is considered extremely critical in clean/renewable energy applications such as wind and solar where energy source is quite scarce and unreliable. Thermal energy storage in particular is often being looked into with the universal rise of energy demand from every part of the world. With the help of energy storage technology, it allows any excess of thermal energy to be stored and used at a later time/date where it’s needed.
Thermal energy storage can be achieved with widely diverse technologies, including molten salt application. By heating the salt and storing it in insulated containers, users can pump out the salt to release the heat stored when the energy is needed. For example, with solar application the molten salt stores the excess heat that is produced during the day and releases it at night to produce electricity.
The mixture is both non-toxic and inert providing the benefit of flexibility. Although it is less efficient than normal battery storage (only supports about 70 as opposed to 90 percent of the energy stored to be transformed back into energy to be used again) molten salt’s efficiency is still a step above any other form of large scale energy storage system. With the dependability of this technology, users do not have to rely on a backup fuel/power generating system (traditional fossil fuel, etc) to complement their energy generation cycle – which means even a renewable energy source can be used to fulfill the plant’s full capacity demands, cutting and eliminating emissions as well as other harmful environmental footprints. In addition, molten salt gives a good stability, thus providing baseload power for both on-grid and off-grid applications.
Solar thermal power plants are found to have the lowest capital cost energy storage system and overall have a comparable and competitive cost in contrast with traditional fueled power systems such as coal, natural gas and nuclear utility cycles. Cheaper energy storage could also make the power grid more resilient and efficient by giving utilities more flexibility in how they produce and distribute power. Learn how to model your thermal energy storage using AxCYCLE.