Guest post contributed and co-authored by Mark Glover, CEO of Trinity Thermal Systems, and David Anderson, COO of Trinity Thermal Systems. Mark and David are joint founders, inventors, and pioneers in green energy storage technology.
The Current Energy Situation
Storage is an integral part of every man-made system we have. We have food in our pantries, fuel in our car gas tanks, and water in our water towers to meet our needs on demand. Man’s greatest machine is our mass network of electricity and grid, but it does NOT have storage built in. Which means, it is not only how much, but when we use electricity that is important. Electrical supply and demand must perfectly balance every minute of every day; standby electric capacity must exist to instantly ramp up to the highest possible peak demand at a moments notice, with reserve capacity of ten to fifteen percent in case demand is under estimated or mechanical breakdown occurs. If we fail to meet even a moment of this growing demand, we have blackouts or brownouts that paralyze our business economy and threaten the health of our families.
Power plants and transmission grid are expensive, polluting, and few want them in their backyard. Growing electricity demand requires new generation and transmission capacity. On the green front, renewable energy holds promise for new capacity, but it cannot realistically replace coal and natural gas for source generating fuel in the next few decades. Coal is America ’s most abundant, cost effective natural resource for source energy, but it has a pollution cost and the price of coal generation is increasing.
Thermal Energy Storage:
Thermal Energy Storage (TES) is a large part of the solution. TES lowers spikes in peak demand by storing surplus energy capacity during off peak periods, and utilizing this stored energy during periods of high peak demand. TES greatly reduces the need for new electric capacity, helps existing generation run more efficiently, reduces pollution, and saves energy costs. TES also stores wind and solar energy, to help renewable energy reach its full potential.
The storage of electric energy is vitally important, but often neglected for other green options. If energy storage could be deployed in sufficient quantity throughout Texas, it would eliminate the need for ALL the currently proposed power plants, and the need for many of the most polluting existing power plants. Power plants have to be built to serve short spikes in peak demand because air conditioning drives up peak demand. This is why TES is so valuable.
IceCycle: Innovation in Thermal Energy Storage
TES is an established and proven technology for larger facilities, but has not been available for mass deployment in smaller facilities. Our company, Trinity Thermal Systems in Texas, has a new patented product called ‘IceCycle’ that captures and stores off peak air conditioning energy for homes and smaller business facilities. It’s a Green Energy Product that saves energy, eliminates the need for new power plants, and qualifies for LEED points. IceCycle shifts up to 95% of air conditioning energy consumption to less expensive off peak periods and saves up to 20% in energy. IceCycle simply and seamlessly harnesses the energy of the smaller unitary air conditioning systems, which most of us use in our homes and businesses daily.
Conventional TES systems address large commercial facilities, but IceCycle can be deployed for the masses. From a UT-MBA study on potential markets for IceCycle, 94% of all commercial buildings use the smaller unitary air conditioning systems that IceCycle works with. Almost all of our homes use unitary air conditioning. IceCycle’s unique Smart Controller can also control and shift the energy consumption for other appliances, such as water heaters and pool pumps.
Off peak cooling is not only less expensive, but more efficient because it is done in cooler nighttime temperatures with less strain on air conditioning equipment. Power plants save energy at night too. According to a California Energy Commission study, “Using power at night instead of during the afternoon can reduce power plant energy consumption and pollution by 20% to 43%, as base-loaded power plants running at night when it is cooler are far more efficient than peaker plants being operated in the heat of the day”. Mark Glover can be reached at Mark-Glover [a] Trinity-Thermal dot Com.