US funds thermochemical storage research

In a move that may have implications for the current trend towards molten salt storage in concentrated solar power (CSP), the US Department of Energy (DoE) has announced a new funding opportunity for thermal energy storage.

The ‘Efficiently Leveraging Equilibrium Mechanisms for Engineering New Thermochemical Storage (CSP: ELEMENTS)’ programme will award USD$20 million to up to 24 projects for research and develop into thermochemical energy storage systems (TCES) to be applied to CSP technology.

As the DoE points out, TCES technologies have the potential to store energy at densities over 23 times greater than that of existing sensible energy storage technologies, principally molten salt. There are a number of preconditions if you’re interested in the funding, however. Any TCES considered will need a minimum of six hours of thermal storage, to be used in utility-scale CSP plants.

Additionally, the TCES system must validate a cost below $15 per kWh-thermal and should operate at temperatures above 650ºC. So the DoE is sensibly trying to both raise temperatures and lower costs in CSP TCES, with the eventual goal of providing a levelised cost of energy of $0.06 per kWh, without subsidies.

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