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Thermal Energy Storage

graphic describing thermal energy flow

Cost-effective energy storage is necessary for the large-scale deployment of renewable electricity, electrification and decarbonization — and essential for meeting clean energy goals. Currently, as much as 50% of electricity consumed by buildings in the United States goes toward meeting thermal loads.  

Thermal energy storage, or TES, shows promise as a cost-effective energy storage alternative. TES refers to energy that can be stored in a material as a heat source or a cold sink, rather than as electrical energy, and reserved for use at a different time. These solutions can increase load flexibility, promote the use of renewable energy sources and allow heat pumps to function more effectively and in more extreme climates. 

Through the Building Technologies Program, ORNL conducts research on the development, demonstration and deployment of cost-effective, integrated energy storage technologies for building applications. Research focuses on new materials, such as anisotropic and phase change, that can be transactively controlled and integrated within existing advanced building equipment and envelope systems. 

ORNL is also a collaborator on DOE’s Stor4Build Consortium, which organizes national laboratory resources and efforts to develop zero-carbon, equitable and affordable building TES technologies and market transformation to ensure their market viability while supporting system integration efforts of existing electrochemical technologies for buildings with TES.