Why thermal energy storage?
Indispensable to enable electrification of heating and cooling
Heating and cooling (H&C) is the single largest source of energy demand and CO2 emissions in Europe (51% of total EU demand), with residential buildings accounting for 45% of the final H&C consumption (~2500 TWh/y) – unfortunately, they are still very dependant on fossil fuels.
Although RES are increasingly abundant in the EU power sector (~40%), their utilization in the H&C sector remains marginal (9%), even though the use of renewable electricity is one of the key trends toward EU buildings stock decarbonization.
Key enabler to transform buildings into ‘energy prosumers’
As EU energy systems decarbonize, they will also be ‘horizontally-integrated’ and ‘bidirectional’ to adapt to higher share of fluctuating renewable energy source (RES). However, buildings are still not fully empowered with active roles in supplying and balancing energy despite the growing need for power-to-heating & cooling (PtH/C).
TES solutions currently lack ‘digital smartness’ for they are merely used as ‘thermal buffer’ and simplistically pre-programmed instead of being a key provider of ‘on-demand’ energy flexibility for both thermal and electrical energy sectors. They miss on-board sensors and controls that can be‘plugged-and-played’ into the orchestrating Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS).
Can boost building efficiency and reduce energy consumption
Buildings are required to ‘do more with less’ by reducing energy consumption, in addition to avoiding the use of hazardous or toxic materials, as stated by the EU Circular Economy Action Plan. Moreover, although energy ratings for buildings are progressively improving, it is not the case for the systems delivering the thermal energy.
Factors contributing to this inefficiency include system oversizing, incompatible temperature control, and misbalancing in returning temperatures. This can result in up to 20% of household energy use and increased energy costs.
Thermal energy storage facilitates
Short-duration peak shifting; long-duration storage and flexible operation of multiple RES sources and coupling of buildings with the wider electricity grid.
ThumbsUp will demonstrate the production and operation of two innovative thermal energy solutions able to cover the needs of both short-duration (daily) and long-duration (weekly) storage at building level. The technologies will be conceived modularly, in order to fit the space requirements in different buildings, as well as easily to be integrated in typical heating and cooling systems, especially coupled to heat pumps. The main target is to provide cost-competitive solutions to make thermal energy storage in buildings a key enabling technology for energy efficiency improvement as well as grid-flexibility support. In such a context, the activity will comprise: innovative storage materials development and optimization, advanced components and system design, demonstration and replicability analysis, also to investigate the future impact of ThumbsUp on electrical and district heating and cooling networks.