Design Analysis of a Particle-Based Thermal Energy Storage System for Concentrating Solar Power or Grid Energy Storage

Zhiwen Ma, Patrick Davenport, Ruichong Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus Citations


Energy storage is becoming indispensable for increasing renewable energy integration, and it is critical to the future low-carbon energy supply. Large-capacity, grid scale energy storage can support the integration of solar and wind power and support grid resilience with the diminishing capacity of baseload fossil power plants. With the development of thermal energy storage (TES) for concentrating solar power systems, standalone TES for grid integration becomes attractive due to the declining renewable generation cost and an increasing need for energy storage. The standalone TES system introduced in this paper can play a big role in the carbon-free energy future with capacity larger than batteries and cost likely lower than other energy storage methods such as pumped storage hydropower and compressed air energy storage, both of which also have geological limitations. To this end, we describe a TES system that uses stable, inexpensive solid particles as a TES media to provide scalable, low cost energy storage. The particle-based TES has the ability to drive various thermal power cycles including conventional steam-Rankine, air Brayton turbine with combined-cycle ability, or the emerging supercritical carbon dioxide Brayton power cycle. This work describes the containment design method including a concrete silo and an internal-insulation layer for the particle-TES system. The economic analysis shows significantly low storage cost when the particle-TES is integrated with Brayton combined-cycle power generation. The paper shows the design approach of the particle-TES system and its economic potential for bulk energy storage. The advantage of the particle-TES system as a promising bulk energy storage method is its ability to economically support dispatchable renewable grid penetration for larger capacity and longer discharging hours than current battery storage technologies.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number101382
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Energy Storage
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-74897


  • Concentrating solar power
  • Concrete silo container
  • Electric energy storage
  • Solid particles
  • Thermal energy storage


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