Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2) portfolio company NETenergy is playing a key role in the next paradigm of the electric grid. NETenergy has created a thermal battery that stores energy to help commercial buildings control cooling costs and balance energy supply and demand.
Energy storage devices convert energy from forms that are difficult to store to more conveniently or economically storable forms. Sometimes referred to as batteries or accumulators, these energy storage devices help manage the amount of purchased power required to supply consumers during peak load times, when energy need is greatest. This technology can stabilize operation at a building, campus, or microgrid level to achieve a good balance between generation and load. Energy storage devices can also help grid operators to more smoothly and easily dispatch renewable energy with intermittent generation profiles.
With more than 85 billion square feet of commercial building space throughout the U.S., and with building energy usage accounting for more of the country’s carbon footprint than motor vehicles, the impetus to leverage energy-efficient retrofits has never been greater. Commercial building owners spend $191 billion per year on utilities, despite the fact that 30 percent of the energy they pay for is wasted via inefficiencies. Consequently, efficiency measures like energy storage hold substantial promise for transforming the energy and electric power industries.
To tackle increasing energy demand and provide commercial building owners with an energy storage solution, Thermal Energy Storage (TES) company NETenergy has created a thermal battery that stores energy to help commercial buildings control cooling costs and help utilities balance the growing time-of-day disparity in energy demand.
NETenergy’s thermal battery provides a buffer of stored cool energy that can be charged during off-peak hours or high PV generation periods. The stored energy can help meet occupant thermal comfort requirements efficiently by reducing the traditionally required air-conditioning (AC) compressor size and cycling. It can also improve electric grid integrity by shaving electric load or shifting it to mid- or off-peak periods.
By utilizing NETenergy’s thermal battery to store cold energy, building owners can reduce their energy usage and associated carbon footprint. Additionally, this technology can save utilities from spending billions of dollars per year building and maintaining “peaker” power plants that are only used a few times per year.
Through the IN2 program, NETenergy is utilizing laboratory testing to validate performance and optimization based on factors like temperature, coolant type, flow rate, pressure, thermal profile, and other specifications. Experts at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are assisting with system integration, design, and control of NETenergy’s thermal battery to integrate with existing building AC systems, looking toward a full-scale system in a commercial building.
NREL’s knowledge of leaders in the industry helped make key connections for NETenergy with leading original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), where their product can be tested and applied. Additionally, NETenergy, partnered with NREL, was awarded U.S. Department of Energy funding by the Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) that aims to advance promising commercial energy technologies and strengthen partnerships between DOE’s national labs and private sector companies to deploy energy technologies to the marketplace.