Global Thermal Energy Storage Market Hits its Stride with Emergent Applications

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), about 21% of all electricity generated across the world in 2011 was from renewable sources. The EIA reckons that this will rise to 25% by 2040. The increasing stress on scaling up the share of renewable energy in the power sector is also, in turn, resulting in a greater demand for efficiently storing that energy. This has turned the focus on alternative energy storage systems such as thermal energy storage, which adds a dash of reliability to the otherwise unpredictable supply of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.

Thermal energy storage technology has been in use since a decade now, but is now garnering more interest as it effectively helps shift the load from peak to off-peak hours. While growth has been steady in the market since the last few years, it is expected to gather pace in the next four years, says a report by Transparency Market Research. According to a report published by the market research firm, the global thermal energy storage market would have reached a valuation on US$1.8 bn by 2020. This is a massive leap from the market’s valuation of US$0.6 bn in 2013. The report further notes that the thermal energy storage market will have a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.70% from 2014 through 2020.

Advantages of Thermal Energy Storage are Market’s Key Driver

The key advantage of thermal energy storage is the fact that it addresses the issue of intense strain on the grid, which again, occurs during the peak afternoon periods when cooling and air conditioning systems consume massive amounts of energy. It also allows for the intelligent use of nighttime power, which is less expensive than the power available during the peak period. This inherent advantage of thermal energy storage has led to its wider deployment. In California-based Wilson Creek Winery, for instance, the installation of thermal energy storage systems combined with efficient air conditioning led them to experience savings of US$27,000 a year. The thermal storage unit moved the cooling load from the peak period during the day to the off-peak period during the night.

Thermochemical and Latent Heat Storage Technologies Could Become as Popular as Sensible Heat Storage

Thus far, sensible heat storage has been the preferred type of thermal energy storage used across the world. It also contributes appreciable revenue to the global thermal energy storage market. This technology entails the storage of energy by heating the desired storage medium (typically water or rock). This stored heat is then converted into electricity that powers various devices when the need arises. Currently, sensible heat storage is among the most popular thermal energy storage techniques and is used in both commercial and industrial facilities.

That could change to some extent in the coming years because of the many advancements being made in thermochemical storage and latent heat storage technologies. Moreover, the latter also provide a higher density of energy storage than sensible heat storage.

However, a factor that could affect the growth of the global thermal energy storage market is the high upfront investment required for such systems and current problems concerning grid interconnection.


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