It successfully demonstrates low-cost storage technology for concentrated solar power (CSP) and is considered significant, as solar energy can now be stored in solid state at temperatures up to 400 Celsius at Masdar Inst

The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, an independent, research-driven graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technologies, and NEST AS, a Norwegian company developing large-scale thermal energy storage (TES) technology, today announced that the Middle East’s first large-scale high-temperature thermal energy storage is now completed at Masdar Institute.

The 1 MWhth demonstration-scale prototype at the Masdar Institute Solar Platform (MISP) is a collaborative project with NEST and other industrial partners. It successfully demonstrates low-cost storage technology for concentrated solar power (CSP) and is considered significant, as solar energy can now be stored in solid state at temperatures up to 400 Celsius at Masdar Institute.

The NEST thermal energy storage (TES) technology is being tested in real solar radiation conditions at the MISP, using hot-oil – the same heat transfer fluid currently used in parabolic trough CSP plants such as Shams-1 in the UAE – to transfer heat to the storage media. This technology allows solar energy to be stored thermally for later use.

Dr. Fred Moavenzadeh, President, Masdar Institute, said "Thermal energy storage technology is a key part of the renewable energy challenge, particularly in countries like the UAE, where solar energy is plentiful in the day but needs to be stored for use in the night. The TES technology being demonstrated at the Masdar Institute Solar Platform will help contribute to the UAE’s renewable energy goals by providing a solution to solar intermittency."

The Norwegian firm NEST is commercializing the system globally. Masdar Institute and NEST are keen to validate this technology and provide proof of concept at demonstration scale. Versatile and scalable, the system is currently testing four solid state thermal energy storage modules. The commercial system is expected to comprise several hundred modules, depending on storage needs, but similar to the ones being tested at Masdar Institute.

Christian Thiel, CEO of NEST, said, "We are delighted by the success of our collaboration with Masdar Institute. We are currently looking at new ways to adapt our TES technology to new renewable energy applications in conjunction with Masdar Clean Energy. Our TES system could also be coupled with CSP for the benefit of sustainable desalination of seawater, which in the UAE currently mainly performed by burning hydrocarbons as part of thermal power and water cogeneration."

CSP with TES offers the potential of continual and uninterrupted power supply to the grid, even when the sun is not shining. In order to capitalize on the potential of CSP, its Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) needs to be reduced, which is a focus of such research and collaborations at Masdar Institute.

Dr. Nicolas Calvet, Assistant Professor, Mechanical and Materials Engineering, is the TES research group leader, and Chair of MISP.

Dr. Calvet said "We are demonstrating a technology that could be potentially used in the next CSP plants to produce electricity 24/7 with a lower cost of production per kWh. The market for this technology is not limited to CSP, as this system could be potentially used to store other forms of heat, including waste heat from any industry that needs high-temperature heat. We already know that this technology can be cheaper than the-state-of-the-art. The question is how much cheaper."

The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology ( Masdar Institute) was established by the government of Abu Dhabi as a not-for-profit, private graduate university to develop indigenous R&D capacity in Abu Dhabi addressing issues of importance to the region.

In collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Masdar Institute has developed an academic and research platform that articulates its mission and vision according to critical energy and sustainability challenges.

An important characteristic of Masdar Institute is its focus on complex real-world problems that require a multidisciplinary approach for the development of solutions from an integrated technology, systems and policy perspective. This multi-interdisciplinary and integrated approach is supported by the structure of its academic programs and by the emphasis placed on engaging external partners from industry, government, and other academic institutions in collaborative activities.

Serving as a key pillar of innovation and human capital, Masdar Institute remains fundamental to Masdar ‘s core objectives of developing Abu Dhabi’s knowledge economy and finding solutions to humanity’s toughest challenges such as climate change.

Masdar Institute integrates theory and practice to incubate a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, working to develop the critical thinkers and leaders of tomorrow. With its world-class faculty and top-tier students, the Institute is committed to finding solutions to the challenges of clean energy and climate change through education and research.

NEST is an innovation-driven knowledge company. The company enjoys a strong IP and proprietary position in the field of thermal energy storage (TES) systems. NEST has expertise in the field of materials, energy systems, structural mechanics and engineering, advanced simulation analysis, and is continuously carrying out R&D to provide leading edge energy storage technologies to the market. In collaboration with partner companies NEST will provide complete EPC and turn-key thermal energy storage solutions to clients around the world.