Economic Analysis of a Novel Thermal Energy Storage System Using Solid Particles for Grid Electricity Storage: Preprint

Zhiwen Ma, Xingchao Wang, Patrick Davenport, Jeffrey Gifford, Janna Martinek

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


As renewable power generation becomes the mainstream new-built energy source, energy storage will become an indispensable need to complement the uncertainty of renewable resources to firm the power supply. When phasing out fossil-fuel power plants to meet the carbon neutral utility target in the midcentury around the world, large capacity of energy storage will be needed to provide reliable grid power. The integration of renewable power and storage to support future carbon-free utility has several significant and positive impacts including expanding the renewable generation into the grid, improving the peak-load response, and balancing the electricity supply and demand. Long-duration energy storage (10–100 hours duration) can potentially complement the reduction of fossil-fuel baseload generation that otherwise would risk grid security when a large portion of grid power comes from variable renewable sources. Current energy storage methods based on pumped storage hydropower or batteries have many limitations. Thermal energy storage (TES) has unique advantages in scale and siting flexibility to provide grid-scale storage capacity. A particle-based TES system has promising cost and performance for the future growing energy storage needs. This paper introduces the system and components required for the particle TES to be technically and economically competitive. A technoeconomic analysis based on preliminary component designs and performance shows that the particle TES integrated with an efficient air-Brayton combined cycle power system can provide power for several days by low-cost, high-performance storage cycles. It addresses grid storage needs by enabling large-scale grid integration of intermittent renewables like wind and solar, thereby increasing their grid value. The design specifications and cost estimations of major components in a commercial scale system are presented in this paper. The cost model provides insights for further development and cost comparison with competing technologies.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages13
StatePublished - 2021
Event15th International Conference on Energy Sustainability (ES2021) -
Duration: 16 Jun 202118 Jun 2021


Conference15th International Conference on Energy Sustainability (ES2021)

Bibliographical note

See NREL/CP-5700-80738 for paper as published in proceedings

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5700-79014


  • grid resilience
  • long duration energy storage
  • power cycle
  • renewable energy
  • thermal energy storage


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