Thermal Storage Power Plants

Leaving coal behind?

“In terms of security of supply, the energy system must be made highly flexible on all levels in order to balance electricity supply and demand, even with a high proportion of variable generation using renewable sources. This includes the coupling of the electricity, heat and transport sectors,” says Karsten Lemmer, DLR Executive Board Member for Energy and Transport.

The success of the Energy Transition depends on the development of new storage technologies. “Thermal storage has the potential to be an ideal energy storage system on a gigawatt-hour scale,” explains André Thess, Director of the DLR Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics. “We need highly-efficient, high-performance energy storage that is also both location-independent and cost-effective. This is of vital importance if we are to achieve a future energy system based on renewable energy sources.” Storage systems are the only way of ensuring that the considerable variability in the production of environment friendly wind and solar power can be balanced against the highly dynamic demand for power.

Bernhard Hoffschmidt, Director of the DLR Institute of Solar Research, says: “Converting existing power plants into large storage power plants offers a number of benefits. Such repurposing means that the majority of the existing power plant technology, some of which is still young and very efficient, can be retained. In addition, as the infrastructure from the ‘first life’ of the power plants can largely be transferred to its ‘third life’, such a conversion saves enormous financial expenditure and allows jobs to be maintained.” The existing power plant infrastructure, such as grid connections and turbines, can continue to be used, while only the supply of raw materials and the storage facilities change. As an intermediate step on the path towards a fully carbon-dioxide-free ‘third life’ for coal-fired power plants, a hybrid system is possible – with electricity generated by a mix of thermal storage and gas-fired steam.

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Prof. Dr. André Thess · E-Mail: ·