NYPA partners on thermal energy storage project with EPRI

In order to ensure reliable and effective storage of renewable energy, US utility New York Power Authority (NYPA) is partnering with the Electric Power Research Authority (EPRI) to investigate the use of rock thermal energy storage.

The project will leverage $200,000 in grant funding secured from the US Department of Energy and $500,000 which will be contributed by project participants.

A technology developed by Israeli company Brenmiller Energy will be tested at NYPA’s Eugene W. Zeitmann Power Project in Astoria for its ability to help accelerate the use of renewable energy especially to provide baseload power.

Brenmiller has patented a high-temperature crushed-rock thermal energy storage system, which is being tested in three generations of demonstration units at separate sites globally. As with other energy storage technologies, the system stores excess energy, in this case thermal energy, so it can be used later during peak demand periods.

The pilot will also assess the economic competitiveness of thermal energy storage compared to other energy storage systems in helping New York to accelerate its transition from fossil fuels to distributed renewables and achieve the 2030 goal of having 70% of total electricity sourced from clean sources.

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EPRI will be leading the demonstration project whilst NYPA is participating as part of its Vision2030 strategic plan in which the utility is investing in various technologies that have the potential to help the energy company reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

The first phase of the project will be a feasibility study on the integration of the crushed-rock thermal energy storage into a range of fossil generation assets, which is expected to be complete in early 2022. A project plan would be developed for a second phase that would evaluate real-world operating conditions and demonstrate the technology’s ability to provide effective and economical energy storage at a natural gas combined-cycle plant.

Brenmiller has plans for its thermal energy storage system to reach commercial-scale deployment by 2030.

Neva Espinoza, EPRI vice president of energy supply and low-carbon resources, said: “Investing in research and development to improve energy storage is critical at this moment in time.

“Innovations in energy storage will contribute to a grid that is both reliable and resilient. This is essential to reaching a cleaner energy future, and we look forward to working with NYPA on this feasibility study.”

Alan Ettlinger, NYPA’s senior director of research, technology development and innovation, adds: “Integrating energy storage is key if we want to make the most of the increasing use of renewable energy resources such as solar and wind.

“This collaboration with EPRI could potentially perfect an environmentally friendly solution that would provide large-scale, longer-duration energy storage that would ultimately help renewable energy compete with fossil fuels.”

While fossil fuels continue to be the main source of power in the US, continued growth in power generation from intermittent renewable sources, such as wind and solar, highlight opportunities for energy storage to increase grid flexibility to ensure reliability within the power transmission and distribution systems.

NYPA is also partnering with Brenmiller on a separate project to develop and demonstrate a TES-based combined heat and power (CHP) system at Purchase College (State University of New York) in Harrison, NY to increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That unit is expected to be operational later in the summer of 2021.