Thermo-mechanical technologies offer promise as grid-scale electricity storage

A new international review of bulk electricity storage technologies highlights the potential of thermo-mechanical energy storage.

Thermo-mechanical energy storage (TMES) technologies can offer a reliable, low-cost solution as grid-scale electricity storage, according to a comprehensive review led by researchers at Imperial College London.

The research, published in Progress in Energy, examines recent progress in the advancement of a range of TMES technologies, including compressed-air energy storage, liquid-air energy storage and pumped-thermal electricity storage.

Using a combined approach comprising validated thermodynamic models and estimates from multiple costing approaches, the researchers compared the technical and economic characteristics of these technologies and assessed their competitiveness against other bulk energy storage options such as flow batteries and pumped-hydro energy storage.

“This is the first time a detailed techno-economic analysis of the main thermo-mechanical energy storage options has been performed for a large range of sizes under a unified modelling framework,” says Andreas Olympios from the Department of Chemical Engineering.

The need for storage

Variable renewable energy sources such as wind and solar now account for just over a quarter of global electricity generation, a share that is growing steadily, creating new challenges for electricity grids.

Read the full press release here.