Thermal Energy Storage Market Heating Up

  • Rising impetus on renewable energy generation drives the global thermal energy storage market.
  • The Middle East & Africa is the largest market for thermal energy storage.
  • Molten salt is expected to hold the largest market share of the thermal energy storage market.

The thermal energy storage market is projected to grow from an estimated $3.67 billion in 2017 to $6.20 billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 11.0% from 2017 to 2022. The global Thermal Energy Storage Market is witnessing a significant growth due to rising impetus on renewable energy generation such as concentrated solar power, increasing demand for thermal energy storage systems in HVAC, and government incentives for thermal energy storage systems. High demand in CSP, especially in the Middle East & African region offers lucrative opportunity for thermal energy storage.

Rising impetus on renewable energy generation such as concentrated solar power drives the global thermal energy storage market

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) when combined with Thermal Energy Storage (TES) offers grid flexibility and is commonly coupled with TES as well as conventional fuels. Unlike other renewable generation resources, such as solar photovoltaics (PV) or wind, it is easily dispatch able. Ongoing research in TES technologies has increased interest in CSP, as it uses thermal energy of sunlight to generate electricity. Parabolic troughs and power towers are the two most common designs which concentrate sunlight against a Heat-Transfer Fluid (HTF), used to drive a steam turbine.

CSP is advantageous over non-dispatch able renewable generation sources (PV, wind) and the design of its plant, built with TES, facilitates energy shifting to periods without solar resource. The dispatch ability of CSP with TES enables higher penetration of the grid by providing backup power even during periods of low solar radiation. TES with CSP can reduce efficiency losses by shifting generation to hours with lower ambient temperatures associated with dry cooling, thus, driving the TES market.

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The Middle East & Africa is the largest market for thermal energy storage

The Middle East & Africa is estimated to be the largest market for thermal energy storage by 2022. The Middle East & Africa is expected to dominate the global market during the forecast period, owing to enormous solar resources, and large energy intensive industries. Heat thermal storage and molten salt thermal storage are major technology types employed in South Africa. Majority of thermal storage projects are present in Northern Cape in the country. South Africa is endowed with enormous solar and wind resources. This will drive the thermal energy storage market in the country during the forecast period.

Molten salt is expected to hold the largest market share of the thermal energy storage market

The molten salt based thermal energy storage segment is expected to hold the largest share in the thermal energy storage market during the forecast period. Molten salts have high boiling points, low viscosity, low vapor pressure, and high volumetric heat capacities. A higher heat capacity corresponds to a smaller storage tank volume. Molten salt can function as a large-scale thermal storage method that would allow other energy sources, such as solar, to become more feasible by smoothing out the fluctuations in demand and weather.

Looking to the future after depleting carbon-based fuel, the successful demonstration of molten salt storage for solar power, provides an edge for tapping into the desert areas to meet power demands. The Middle East & African market is driven by the implementation of concentrating solar projects based on molten salt storage material.

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Major Market Developments

  • In January 2016, SolarReserve’s 110 MW Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project received $78 million from Capital One Bank (U.S.). This project uses molten salt storage technology, enabling operation round the clock. This facility delivers 110 MW of electricity plus 1100 MW energy storage to the Nevada grid under a 25-year power purchase agreement with NV Energy (U.S.).
  • In December 2016, Burns & McDonnell acquired the industrial contractor Azco, Inc. (U.S.). The two companies worked together on multiple projects and recently made a combustion turbine generator for the Empire Riverton power plant in Riverton, Kansas.
  • In May 2016, Tucson Electric Power (U.S.) entered into a long-term agreement with EON SE (Germany) and NextEra Energy Resources (U.S.) for the construction two large energy storage systems which was approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission (U.S.).

Key players in the thermal energy storage market include Ice Energy (U.S.), Calmac (U.S.), DN Tanks (U.S.), Abengoa Solar (Spain), and SolarReserve, LLC (U.S.) among others.

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Siddhant Patil

Energy & Power Consultant


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