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The deployment of renewable energy sources (RES) for both power and heat production is accelerating in Europe, a trend that will continue. However, the variations in both the availability and demand of energy and their integration into the existing energy infrastructure raise challenges in terms of operational variability and balancing. Affordable solutions are needed that can help to balance demand and supply to make better use of infrastructure and assets. Smart heat concepts, including thermal storage concepts, have the potential to provide the needed flexibility options – storage, demand response, and smart operation – on the short term and at a relatively low cost.
Thermal energy storage concepts have unique features and can be used to manage the variations in supply and demand at different scales in the energy sector: large scale district heating and cooling networks and industrial applications, but also at smaller scale for commercial buildings and household dwellings.
EASE, the European Association for Storage of Energy, has now published its position paper 'Thermal Energy Storage' (TES), which highlights the role of this option in supporting the energy transition. The paper outlines the applications and key features of thermal energy storage systems.
TNO has particular expertise in the field of thermal energy storage and took the lead in drafting this paper as chair of EASE’s Thermal Storage Task Force. TNO supports developing and deploying various storage concepts and integrating these in smart energy systems; from large scale underground thermal energy concepts that support heat grids to heat batteries for smaller decentralised applications.
In the paper three concrete short-term actions are proposed that can bring Thermal Energy Storage to the forefront of technologies supporting the energy transition:
It is stressed further that these proposals would support the EU’s goals to empower consumers, improve energy efficiency, and decarbonise the energy sector, including the often underexposed heating and cooling sector, in a cost-effective way.
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