What is Thermal Storage?
Thermal energy storage is like a battery for a building’s air-conditioning system. It uses standard cooling equipment, plus an energy storage tank to shift all or a portion of a building’s cooling needs to off-peak, night time hours. During off-peak hours, ice is made and stored inside energy storage tanks. The stored ice is then used to cool the building occupants the next day.
Thermal ice storage is environmentally friendly and safe. It also saves money. What it does is create ice during off-peak (night) hours. That ice helps cool the building during the peak (day) hours and reduces cost. Most power companies offer lower rates during non-peak hours at night.
For every four buildings cooled by thermal storage, a fifth can be cooled also, without the need for additional power plants. The cumulative effect of less peak demand across multiple buildings, generates enough extra cooling capacity to address the cooling needs of a fifth building. Lowering peak demand brings other significant benefits too.
Thermal storage can help green building professionals and building owners achieve LEED® points in Energy & Atmosphere (EA), the largest credit area for both new and existing buildings. With this credit, earn up to 18 points by surpassing ASHRAE standards by up to 50%. For new construction only, thermal storage, can help reduce energy costs 10-20% and gain up to 10 points. The ASHRAE Standard is based on energy cost savings, not energy savings. So cost is the metric to drive technology choices such as thermal energy storage in new construction.
This diagram shows the components of a thermal ice storage unit.
The water is sent through a chiller to make ice that is stored in the thermal ice storage. During the day, that thermal ice storage allows the cooling of the building through air conditioning.
As we seek ways to lower emissions and carbons, thermal energy storage, which has been around for many years, is a great way to do just that. It also provides a smaller carbon footprint and takes up less room.
Benefits of Thermal Energy Storage
There are several benefits to thermal energy storage. These benefits include:
- Because the ice already cools the air, this system lowers the first cost (cooling the air). This makes it able to use smaller versions of the following:
- Heat rejection equipment
- Piping sizes
- Cooling coil
- Air fan
- Air handling equipment
- Electrical distribution
- Reduces cost by working during low peak hours and saves energy.
- Variable capacity.
- Improved system reliability.
- Reduced maintenance.
- Environmentally friendly.
- Proven technology for many years.
- Lowers carbon emissions.
These benefits can lower costs and reduce the carbon footprint of controlling the environment of office buildings, malls, schools, and even our homes. There are many new green energies and processes to reduce emissions into the environment today. Each year we see an increase of new technology centered on saving the climate with green energies and processes for manufacturing and more.
According to Market Watch there is a rise in thermal storage energy expected well into 2029 and beyond.
Who Can Use Thermal Ice Storage?
There are plenty of groups or people who can put thermal ice storage to work, reducing their costs of cooling.
Some of these groups include:
- Commercial buildings
- Dairy farmers both hot and cold water
- Internet data centers
- Sports arenas and complexes
Those are just a few of the types of companies that can use thermal ice storage. The temperature can be better regulated. The cold water is kept cooler by using thermal energy storage. The market is still expanding, who knows how much farther it will expand?
The best thing is it helps the climate while working well to reduce cool costs. It is a win-win situation.
Federal Tax Incentive for Thermal Ice Storage
There are is federal tax incentives to use thermal ice storage, an added benefit. A tax incentive is an amount you can subtract from the amount you owe the government. This incentive is not to be confused with standard deductions.
The way it works is this; for commercial or industrial applications, you can subtract a percentage of the alternative energy equipment that is making the building more energy efficient.
Using all these improvements can get you a nice subtraction from the amount you owe the IRS. Also, the good feeling you get from helping the climate.
The number of uses of thermal ice storage is going to rise over the next several years. This is especially true as more and more processes find ways to use thermal energy storage in manufacturing and more.
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