Economic Analysis of an Electric Thermal Energy Storage System Using Solid Particles for Grid Electricity Storage

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

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

7 Scopus Citations


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 renewable power integration with storage can support future carbon-free utility and has several significant impacts including increasing the value of renewable generation to 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 particlebased 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 pages10
StatePublished - 2021
EventASME 2021 15th International Conference on Energy Sustainability, ES 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: 16 Jun 202118 Jun 2021


ConferenceASME 2021 15th International Conference on Energy Sustainability, ES 2021
CityVirtual, Online

Bibliographical note

See NREL/CP-5700-79014 for preprint

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5700-80738


  • Grid resilience
  • Long duration energy storage
  • Power cycle
  • Renewable energy
  • Thermal energy storage


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