The concept that could put AC on ice

Ice Energy's remarkable storage compound is colourless, odourless and so safe you can drink it. Pic: Pixabay.

Ice Energy’s remarkable storage compound is colourless, odourless and so safe you can drink it. Pic: Pixabay.

By Jason Deign

Thermal energy storage such as that being commercialised by Ice Energy may have a much greater impact than just doing away with the duck curve.

If sold at scale, it could also effectively put traditional air conditioning (AC) out of business in large areas of the world where AC is essential for daytime workplace and home cooling.

Ice Energy is already bracing itself for growing demand in sunny US territories where increasing distributed solar penetration is causing regulators to move away from net metering plans.

In places such as Hawaii, the shift away from net metering is depriving solar-equipped homeowners of electricity bill reductions and forcing them to look at alternative ways to save money with PV. Powering AC units is one option.

AC is one of the biggest daytime and evening energy loads of households in hot locations. With net metering, much of electricity you need to drive AC units can come for free from any excess you have poured into the grid. 
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Ice Energy consumer product slated for 2017

Ice Energy, the thermal energy storage company, will offer a residential variant of its Ice Bear 20 next year. The product combines ice storage and air conditioning. Photo credit: Sandia

Ice Energy, the thermal energy storage company, will offer a residential variant of its Ice Bear 20 next year. The product combines ice storage and air conditioning. Photo credit: Sandia

By Jason Deign

Ice Energy, the thermal energy storage player, is planning to offer a consumer variant of its new Ice Bear 20 product next year.

The product will use ice for air conditioning and will likely have a little less than the Ice Bear 20’s current four hours of storage, CEO Mike Hopkins told Energy Storage Report.

It will cost slightly more than a new air conditioning system. But it could come in “a little bit under the cost of air conditioning if you take account of rebates in California,” Hopkins said.

The Ice Bear 20, a 20 ton-hour ‘ice battery’ launched at the beginning of this month, is already designed to replace household air conditioning units in what Hopkins termed “a standard-sized home” in the US, measuring around 230m2.

However, Ice Energy is targeting the Ice Bear 20 at utilities wanting to gain greater control of consumer energy loads. Hopkins said National Grid had already expressed an interest in deploying the product in Nantucket, USA.
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