Groundbreaking new energy storage solution: the rise of silicon thermal

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Silicon thermal energy storage systems are more compact than batteries and have the lowest levelised cost compared to any other form of storage, according to Dr Kevin Moriarty, Executive Chairman at 1414 Degrees.

Dr Moriarty has more than 40 years experience in mining and oil exploration and development before he saw an opportunity to move into energy storage, and now heads up 1414 Degrees who are supporting the uptake of silicon thermal energy storage.

“There’s nothing quite like it in that it brings together a number of aspects of the common industrial applications, especially high temperature ones, and puts them together in a new way. So it’s using common things, but not in this combination.

“It’s not even in use anywhere, because it is literally groundbreaking,” Dr Moriarty said.

Silicon thermal energy storage systems store energy as latent heat in molten silicon. It delivers both heat and electric power, and can be dispatched on demand. With the significant increase in the number of large-scale batteries and pumped hydro projects in Australia, and in particular, South Australia, it’s clear there is a need for energy storage to help increase the efficiency and reliability of the grid and reduce the risk of blackouts.

But why look to thermal energy storage when we already have other forms of storage that work?

“Well there’s a number of deficiencies to storage. Pumped hydro, which is very much in the news at the moment here in South Australia and Australia in general, in fact, is very useful for long-term storage, seasonal storage and so on, but you can’t put it anywhere, it’s got to be located somewhere where there’s mountains and plenty of water, and so on. So you’re quite limited in location. It’s also relatively expensive, and possibly environmentally challenging to set up,” Dr Moriarty said.

“What the thermal energy storage system does, is it can be located anywhere, it’s very compact, more compact in fact for energy storage than batteries and it has a very long life. In other words, the more you cycle it, preferably daily, the better it likes it. It’s a very robust new solution to energy storage.”

Ahead of his upcoming presentation at the Australian Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition 2018, Dr Moriarty said that while grid reliability is the ultimate goal, economics also play a big part.

“I don’t think multi-billion-dollar schemes are going to cut it, if their impact is felt in people’s taxes or their electricity bills, or energy in general, in fact, because gas is very highly priced too. So when we looked at this, we realised that the silicon thermal energy storage system had the lowest levelised cost of storage of anything else out there. I’m talking pumped hydro, and batteries, flywheels, and so on.”

The Australian Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition will run from 23-24 May at the Adelaide Convention Centre. With a theme of ‘Storing Energy for a Sustainable Future’, the event will feature Australian and international speakers and companies discussing the opportunities and challenges of energy storage. To register for the conference or free exhibition, visit www.australianenergystorage.com.au/register.

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