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  • 1.  Technology suggestions for Solar Today articles

    Posted 03-28-2023 02:41 PM

    Hi Kat:

    I was looking through the many suggestions.  Seems to me "Grid Harmonization" kind of covers many of the suggestions, the technologies, systems, plants, broadband, etc. A utility perspective on this would be interesting too. I have a big interest and focus on thermal storage, especially hot water.  Everyone talks electric batteries, but if you want to displace natural and other heating fuels (a big part of GHG gases), making a lot of hot water, in storage (1000's of small tanks, big ones like 3 MW, etc. Running hot water through heating systems, heat pumps (coming and going), etc.  Chilled water too.  Especially commercial, institutional, schools, where most of the energy is needed. And all the related controls, monitoring, dispatching. 

    A wind turbine, on a cold windy night, can deliver electric heat at 2 cents a kW-hr, beating natural gas by a factor of 2. Without a heat pump. Solar should never be curtailed, just put in hot water when electric batteries are full. The marginal cost of RE systems are cheap. 

    From the utility perspective I want to see and know more about the operation and advancements for "distribution substations".  Most importantly, bi-directional operation and safety issues, which seems to be the main issue with electrical engineers. Forget about transmission and MISO, PJM, just build and control RE inside the distribution systems. That's where the action should be, local, equitable, ownership by people and public power.

    Just thinking.

    Steve :-)

    Steven smiley
    Smiley Energy Services, LLC

  • 2.  RE: Technology suggestions for Solar Today articles

    ASES Life Member
    Posted 03-29-2023 10:02 AM
    Heating and cooling (especially industrial uses) represents a huge renewable opportunity.

    Dave Roberts does a deep dive that's worth a listen - and some 100 year old solutions from the blast furnace industry are being dusted off to store that otherwise curtailed green energy.

  • 3.  RE: Technology suggestions for Solar Today articles

    Posted 03-29-2023 05:04 PM
    Edited by william fitch 03-29-2023 05:11 PM

    Listened to it, scanned through it. Ya, its the old "story" of sensible heat storage. It was a bit low end, see spot run. But I suppose they try and appeal to a broad audience. I would like to know what insulation solution they are using for the 1000DegF+ uses claiming a 30 year stability.

    If some one could come up with a phase change material that was non corrosive, phase changing above 1000DegF with a high latent heat change, that would be industry busting for sure. Sensible heat storage just does not have a very good energy density. AlO has a better specific heat than rock or other common masonry materials, but still not very high. 

    Back many years, PPL (our elect provider) had thermal storage off peak power heaters (Brick) you could install as a whole heating system in your home (Off peak heating up) and were giving you that night time heating rate at about 2.5 cents a KWH as I remember, VS double or Triple the rate for baseboard resistive heating loaded at anytime.

    My grandfather had patients on inventing the round Corbuster for Recuperators (Steel Industry) where the heat from the furnace "chimneys" was extracted for heating the incoming air for the new entering fuel. Giant heat exchangers basically. Silicon Carbide was the material of choice for the heat exchanger tubes and Corbusters. That dates back to the 1930 and 1940's.

    william fitch

  • 4.  RE: Technology suggestions for Solar Today articles

    Posted 03-29-2023 06:37 PM
    Edited by Kat Friedrich 03-29-2023 06:40 PM

    @Steven Smiley @william fitch@Andrew Stone, 

    I have been curious about prospects for including more articles on industrial technologies in Solar Today since I joined ASES last summer. I'd like to hear more about what large corporations are doing to implement RE. David Roberts sometimes digs into these subjects, but overall, they are not receiving a lot of coverage in energy news. We have one article on industrial decarbonization in our spring issue which is from Cliff Ho's team at Sandia National Laboratories.

    Generally speaking, for Solar Today, I'm interested in concrete articles that focus on implementation and provide practical insights. 

    Solar thermal is not in the spotlight often and should be mentioned more. I just shared a link to a solar thermal video from Canary Media with our team at ASES for possible inclusion in our social feeds and/or the Solar@work newsletter. 

    Kat Friedrich
    Editor in Chief

  • 5.  RE: Technology suggestions for Solar Today articles

    Posted 03-30-2023 02:36 PM

    Hi Kat: I will keep this short. Recent article on CleanTech... link as follows:

    It goes to the heart of de-carbonizing industry with elect over gas.
    A good read for idea extrapolation....

    william fitch

  • 6.  RE: Technology suggestions for Solar Today articles

    Posted 03-30-2023 10:43 AM
    Edited by Elias OUEDRAOGO 03-31-2023 09:05 AM


    Objectively I am in favor of thermal storage with water!

    Water-based thermal storage can be more efficient and more cost-effective than electric batteries for space heating applications in places where heat demand is high (Anchorage, Newyork city) and predictable (Schools, offices, shopping malls, multi-family buildings). I let those who can, to verify the claim by comparing the overall system efficiency and cost performance of 4 cases for heating a large hospital in Newyork for example!

    Case 1- Sun --->solar thermal collector--->water thermos --->space to heat

    Case 2- Sun --->Solar PV system --->heat pump--->water thermos --->space to heat

    Case 3- Sun --->solar PV system ---->lithium battery --->heat pump--->space to heat

    Case 4- Natural gas --->boiler--->space to heat

    Water-based heat storage certainly has a low energy density compared to phase change material (PCM), however, this fact is often "exaggerated" as there is plenty of space around buildings to install water thermos. Parking lots, basements, garages, gardens, septic tank places, …. In many cases, it is feasible to install a 20m3 water tank (eg: 3-meter side cube or 20ft container) underground or above ground for a centralized thermal storage unit. When costs, environmental concerns, and scalability are taken into account, PCMs often don't stand a chance over water. In fact for cooling, there are companies using ice as a natural clean PCM.

    I also think that distributed water thermos in tens to hundreds of cubic meters can be a good solution to limit peak power, solar/wind curtailment, pressure on batteries materials mining, and so on. As the saying "don't put all eggs in one basket" diversifying energy systems components can improve the security of energy services. Even if solar thermal turns out to be slightly more expensive than solar PV+heat pump, it can be good to keep solar thermal in the energy mix. Everything electric sounds nice, but it can be scary if you think of what if the electric system goes wrong. 

    out of topic: I went to a restaurant few days ago, and the waiter said I can see the menu only by scanning the QR code on the table. No paper menu anymore. I said so if I don't have a smartphone I can't eat, no battery I can't eat, if no internet I can't eat, if your website got hacked ...... he said yes no food, it is a tech world!

    Before closing, I would share these 2 articles about water-based thermal storage projects one up to 5m3 and the other 50.000m3. 


    June 30, 2022 " A steel 'thermos tower' in Berlin will be the largest heat storage facility in Europe"

    Business Developer
    Future Energy Company

  • 7.  RE: Technology suggestions for Solar Today articles

    Posted 03-30-2023 02:28 PM

    Hi Elias:

    Nice summary and ideas for hot water storage, and study.  Maybe we can get more folks thinking and analyzing this, now.  My analysis shows it is a critically important technology to abate GHG gases. My analysis for a 100% renewable energy plan in a medium sized city , illustrates that in a colder climate city with natural gas, that overall all energy use is roughly 64% natural gas (not counting transportation) with the balance being mostly electric. That means that targeting natural gas is most critical, and as it is mostly used for space and water heating, thermal (hot water) storage is very important and valuable.  So heating water with renewable electricity (solar/wind, etc.) is the best way to go, with or without heat pumps to advance the displacement of natural gas.  And a community can start large with schools, large institutions, hospitals, etc. which have the most overall clean energy impacts.  Take for example, a 3 MW electric boiler (10 million BTU) next to a 3 MW solar array, with variable staged operation depending on the energy supply and needs. Install ten of those in your community near big schools, hospitals, industry, and you have some real impacts!  The average electric load of a small city. How much land does that take, not much?  Anyone want to analyze that?  Of course, the Danes have the best experience with such things, large thermal storage, district heat, etc. Hot water is piped to every building,  then run through a heat exchanger (2' x 2' box) to heat the space and DHW.  Simple.


    I'm concluding that we need to install roughly three times (or more) the present electric capacity in a typical community, with solar and wind energy.  All excess energy goes right into electric and thermal storage. Put it all inside the "distribution" electric system, forget about MISO, PJM, etc.


    If anyone knows of studies addressing these aspects, I would be happy to hear about them.  I'm in Seattle now (just moved a year and half ago), so I'll look at the Seattle study.  I read something about that a few years ago. 



    Steven Smiley



  • 8.  RE: Technology suggestions for Solar Today articles

    Posted 03-31-2023 11:09 AM

    Hello Steven,

    Sure, natural gas is the most critical to displace, and solar +thermal storage is the right candidate for it.
    We are adding a 4th case : Natural gas--->boiler--->space to heat.

    Hopefully, in the future, this option will be eliminated either by law or by economics! or even better by people's choice
    With MW scale storage project, community participation can speed up things, assuming that regulators play the game too

    Best regards

    Business Developer
    Future Energy Company