DOE invests in novel energy storage tech
Three projects to levelize coal and power plant output Metal Tech News – March 23, 2022
Last updated 3/22/2022 at 1:13pm
From hot sand in Alabama to hydrogen storage at Tennessee coal mines, the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management is investing $2.4 million into projects that could increase the duration, reliability, and affordability of novel energy storage technologies.
"The Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management is investing in projects that will advance thermal and hydrogen energy storage technologies for use during and beyond the electricity decarbonization transition," Jennifer Wilcox, acting assistant secretary of the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management.
Roughly one-third of the funds are being invested in the 10 megawatt-hour electricity Sand Thermal Energy Storage pilot system, or SandTES, being advanced by the Electric Power Research Institute.
Widely available, inexpensive, and with high thermal capacity, silica or quartz sand are ideal materials for storing energy as heat that can be converted back into electricity as needed.
The basic idea behind this type of thermal battery is the excess electricity generated during low-demand steam from coal- or natural gas-fired power plants is used to heat the sand. In turn, when extra electricity is needed during peak consumption, the hot sand is used to create steam to power turbines.
While this may seem counterintuitive, a thermal energy storage system has the potential to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions at coal- and gas-fueled power plants by reducing the baseload operating rate. Without the flexibility to transition electrical output with load demand, these power plants must run at expected peak demand. By capturing the energy generated but not used during low-demand periods, energy storage can capture some of the generated energy that is currently wasted.
The Electric Power Research Institute and its partners will use the DOE funds and $200,000 in non-DOE funding to carry out a pre-front end engineering on the pilot system installed at Alabama Power's Ernest C. Gaston Electric Generating Plant in Wilsonville, Alabama.
Thermal sand energy storage technology is being developed to store intermittent energy generated by wind and solar. More information can be read at Sandbox battery to energize remote mines in the June 30, 2021 edition of Metal Tech News.
Another $800,000 of the DOE funding is being invested in the Gas Technology Institute's project to demonstrate the storage of more than 54 megawatt-hours of energy as clean hydrogen that is produced using natural gas with carbon capture and storage.
Much like the thermal storage, the production of "blue" hydrogen during non-peak power load times will allow a natural gas and a hydrogen-fired duct burner to burn the hydrogen during peak demand.
Hydrogen storage and discharge rates will be linked to follow daily power demand fluctuations from variable renewable energy, thus increasing plant efficiency while reducing emissions.
Gas Technology Institute's Hydrogen Storage for Load-Following and Clean Power: Duct-firing of Hydrogen to Improve the Capacity Factor of NGCC (natural gas combined cycle) project will be installed at Southern Company Services' Washington County Cogeneration Facility in McIntosh, Alabama.
The remaining US$800,000 of DOE funding will be used for WE New Energy Inc.'s pre-front end engineering study of a cost-effective steel-concrete composite hydrogen energy storage prototype that is integrated with existing or new coal- and gas-fueled electricity generating units.
This long-duration hydrogen energy storage system will enable more flexible operations and help to manage dynamic changes in grid demand and electricity price.
Fossil Energy and Carbon Management says these technologies will initially support the transition of existing fossil fuel-burning power plants to low-carbon energy systems, with the long-term potential to support the Biden administration's goal of a fully decarbonized electricity grid by 2035.
The selected projects support FECM's Energy Storage program and DOE's Energy Storage Grand Challenge, which seek to develop and manufacture domestic energy storage technologies that meet all U.S. market demands by 2030 and position the U.S. as a world leader in energy storage.