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National laboratories launch buildings consortium leveraging benefits of thermal and electrochemical energy storage for all Americans

ORNL, NREL, and Berkeley Lab have launched Stor4Build, a consortium on energy storage for buildings. Credit: NREL, in collaboration with Berkeley Lab and ORNL.



Stor4Build is a new consortium focused on energy storage for buildings that will accelerate the growth, optimization and deployment of storage technologies. The consortium will be co-led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory along with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley.

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. The general target of TES systems is to reach installed capital costs of less than $15 per kilowatt-hour of stored thermal energy, and the consortium plans to develop metrics for identifying optimal performance targets for power and energy density, working temperature, materials and systems costs, round-trip efficiency, lifetime and durability, installation and operation, and maintenance costs.

“By shifting HVAC loads off-peak, TES addresses grid challenges associated with electrification and decarbonization. Becoming impactful nationwide requires new materials and new methods of integrating storage with HVAC,” said Kyle Gluesenkamp, ORNL senior scientist and Stor4Build co-director. “Stor4Build will bring together the stakeholders necessary to accelerate development and market adoption of scalable TES technologies.”

Four research areas have been identified as foundational to all consortium activities: materials optimization and manufacturing; modeling and analysis; system optimization and integration; and market, policy and equity. Led by industry-recognized experts at the national laboratories, the consortium will also include active participants from diverse stakeholder groups representing industry, utilities, nonprofit organizations, communities, building owners, academia, government and other research institutions. The crosscutting team will address the need of developing equitable solutions to ensure benefits of storage technologies are clear for all communities, including those historically disadvantaged.

The consortium plans to complete a community-scale demonstration of technologies to showcase its initial achievements. The demonstration will serve as a foundation for large-scale deployments of TES as well as electrochemical battery energy storage and systems capable of satisfying both the heating and cooling needs in buildings.

Because there are significant ongoing national efforts to develop and optimize electrochemical storage, Stor4Build will focus major 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. 

The Stor4Build Consortium is expected to release a road map report targeting technical and market gaps to be addressed to allow the market adoption and transformation needed of energy storage technologies in buildings.

The Stor4Build Consortium will be funded by DOE’s Building Technologies Office as part of an effort to advance TES.

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 This article was adapted from an NREL announcement.