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Thermal energy storage

Thermal energy represents about half of the global energy need, and is used for heating, cooling or steam.

For industry, this proportion is even higher, comprising approximately 80%, and the majority of this energy need is met by using fossil fuels. The simplest way to achieve fossil-free production of industrial process heat is through electrification, but direct electrification will require a significant increase in grid capacity and renewable power production. This can be partially avoided by developing technologies for more efficient thermal energy storage, which will enable industry to even out loads and move loads to periods with surplus renewable energy in the grid.

Together with the AIT - Austrian Institute of Technology, SINTEF Energy has developed the CETES tool, which is used to find an optimum way to achieve fossil-free production by storing steam in an industrial facility. In addition, SINTEF develops integrated solutions using high-temperature heat pumps and thermal energy storage in order to produce process heat in, for example, the food industry. High-temperature heat pumps facilitate the use of excess heat, thereby reducing the power need, and combining them with thermal storage presents the opportunity to even out loads, thereby reducing the installed production capacity. By extension, this will reduce both the investment and operational costs.

Cold thermal energy storage (CTES)

In addition to storing and producing process heat and steam, SINTEF also works to develop new technologies for cold thermal energy storage (CTES).

According to the International Energy Agency, the need for cooling will increase significantly over the coming decades. Generally, industry processes require cooling the most for short periods every day. The rest of the time, the cooling system runs at a lower efficacy, but it is still dimensioned for the highest capacity and has the same energy need.

If we develop CTES technologies that can deliver some of the cooling during peak times, this will enable us to reduce the cooling system capacity, thereby reducing the total energy consumption and associated costs. Furthermore, this will also contribute to a more flexible power system, and allow for an increased proportion of power production with variable renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power.

Thermal energy storage and the green transition

Since industry is responsible for a significant part of the global energy consumption, and this consumption is largely based on fossil energy sources, thermal energy storage is critical for ensuring a flexible, stable and cost-effective energy supply in the future. Thermal energy storage is an important topic when we talk about the green transition, and the development of technologies for both hot and cold thermal storage will be able to guarantee the cost-effective storage of large amounts of energy, as well as lower energy consumption and lower emissions in industry.

We work with the following topics:

  • Industry processes
  • Energy systems for buildings and neighbourhoods
  • Large-scale energy systems (district heating, energy grids)

Our typical projects include:

  • Determining the best integration scenarios of thermal energy storage technologies in industry processes to reduce investment and energy costs, while achieving a higher degree a sustainability
  • Developing innovative thermal energy storage technologies
  • Developing a system that combines (high-temperature) heat pumps or electric boilers and thermal energy storage for replacing fossil-based (typical gas boilers) in an industrial facility or in agriculture
  • Designing an integrated energy system for an industrial cluster with optimal use of multiple energy carriers (heat, power, hydrogen…)
  • Designing predictive control strategies for the thermal energy storage to benefit from fluctuating energy prices and variable energy sources (wind and solar power)

Who do we do this for?

  • The food & beverages industry
  • The metal industry
  • The chemical industry
  • Industrial clusters
  • Energy grid operators


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