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EGEB: Thermal energy storage could be a key green innovation player

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • The University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia proves thermal energy storage’s great potential.
  • Illinois is getting a new 185 MW wind farm.
  • UnderstandSolar is a free service that links you to top-rated solar installers in your region for personalized solar estimates. Tesla now offers price matching, so it’s important to shop for the best quotes. Click here to learn more and get your quotes. — *ad.

Thermal energy storage

A new innovation outlook report about thermal energy storage from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) defines it as the “temporary storage of energy by heating or cooling a storage medium so that the stored energy can be used at a later time for power generation. Thermal energy storage is tested and deployed in a variety of applications, such as utility-scale power generation, industry, district heating and cooling, buildings and cold chain logistics.”

IRENA states that the “global market for [thermal energy storage] could triple in size by 2030, growing… to over 800 GWh within a decade. Thermal energy storage investments can help to fulfill long-term climate and sustainability goals.”

The University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) in Queensland, Australia, has already proven that thermal energy storage is effective. The system (pictured above) was switched on in August 2019, and it’s the first of its kind among Australian universities. It has a three-story thermal energy storage tank built by environmental solutions company Veolia that functions as a “battery,” and around 6,500 solar panels across campus rooftops and parking garages.

The 2.1 MW solar PV system produces enough energy to cool 4.5 megaliters of water. The cooled water is stored and used for air conditioning, which consumes around 60% of the university campus’ electricity.

A year and a half later, USC has released the system’s performance figures, and it’s been a big success. It generated more than 3 GWh of electricity in its first 12 months of operation. It also put an additional 2 GWh of electricity into Queensland’s energy grid.

The project, which is expected to have a 25-year life, will save USC AU$100 million in electricity costs. USC’s goal is to become carbon neutral by 2025.

Here’s a video that explains more about USC’s system:

New Illinois wind farm

Mason County, Illinois, just north of Springfield, is going to get a 185 MW wind farm called Glacier Sands. Cordelio Power awarded the project to White Construction, a subsidiary of Infrastructure and Energy Alternatives Inc. (IEA), an infrastructure construction company. The 43-turbine wind farm is expected to be completed in October 2021.

IEA has constructed more than 20 GW of renewable energy projects across North America to date.

North American Windpower provides the state’s wind power context:

Illinois ranks sixth in the nation for installed wind capacity according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), with over 5,800 MW of wind online. Wind accounts for 7.6% of all energy produced in the state. Illinois also ranks third in the nation in wind industry employment, with over 8,000 wind jobs in 2019.

Photo: USC

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.