The U.S. Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is to lead a $5-million research project to develop concrete thermal energy storage (CTES) technology that could be used in Concentrated Solar Power and conventional power plants, EPRI announced July 1.

«Concrete thermal energy storage has the potential to be significantly cheaper than batteries with a smaller footprint. It also has the potential for longer-duration storage, which will be critical as more wind and solar come on-line,» EPRI said.

The CTES system transports high-pressure steam from power plants through tubes, heating and storing the modules ready for conversion to electricity.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), EPRI and its project partners will design and build a pilot 10 MWh CTES system which will be integrated into an existing coal plant for testing.

«The testing will establish the capabilities of the CTES system in a real-world environment, demonstrating its efficiency and ability to handle flexible operating conditions. In addition, an analysis will be done to determine the costs and benefits of a full-scale application of CTES technology,» EPRI said.

Partners in the project include CTES technology developer Bright Generation Holdings, engineering group AECOM and power utility Southern Company.

AECOM will supply engineering procurement and construction (EPC) resources and Southern Company will provide the field test site and operational support.

Initial work on the project will start in October and the pilot system is expected to be operational by early 2021.

New Energy Update