Silicon thermal energy storage systems are more compact than batteries and have the lowest levelised cost compared to any other form of storage. With the significant increase in the number of large-scale batteries and pumped hydro projects in Australia, it is clear there is a need for energy storage to help increase the efficiency and reliability of the grid and reduce the risk of blackouts.

Executive chairman 1414 Degrees Dr Kevin Moriarty says there’s nothing quite like it in that it brings together a number of aspects of the common industrial applications, especially high temperature ones, and puts them together in a new way.

“So, it’s using common things but not in this combination. It’s not in use anywhere because it’s literally ground-breaking,” says Moriarty adding that silicon thermal energy storage systems store energy as latent heat in molten silicon, which delivers both heat and electric power, and can be dispatched on demand.

But why look to thermal energy storage when there are already have other forms of storage that works?

Moriarty suggests there are a number of deficiencies to storage for example pumped hydro, which he says are very much in the news at the moment in South Australia and across Australia in general.

“It’s very useful for long term storage, seasonal storage and so on, but you can’t put it anywhere, it’s got to be located somewhere where there’s mountains and plenty of water, and so on. So you’re quite limited in location. It’s also relatively expensive and possibly environmentally challenging to set up,” says Moriarty.

“What the thermal energy storage system does is it can be located anywhere, it’s very compact, more compact in fact for energy storage than batteries and it has a very long life. In other words, the more you cycle it, preferably daily, the better it likes it. It’s a very robust new solution to energy storage.”

“While grid reliability is the ultimate goal, economics also play a big part. I don’t think multi-billion dollar schemes are going to cut it, if the impact is felt in people’s taxes or their electricity bills, or energy in general because gas is very highly priced too. When we looked at this, we realised the silicon thermal energy storage system had the lowest levelised cost of storage of anything else out there. I’m talking pumped hydro, batteries, flywheels and so on.”

Dr Kevin Moriarty is a guest presenter at the Australian Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition in Adelaide, 23-24 May 2018.