SBI Bulletin: Molten Salt Energy Storage, 2006-2020

Published: September 13, 2012

Table of Contents

SBI Bulletin: Molten Salt Energy Storage, 2006-2020
Molten-Salt Thermal Energy Storage Systems
Figure: 1-1 Typical Two-Tank Indirect Molten Salt TES System
Table 1-1 Characteristics of Molten Salt TES Systems
Market History
Key Design Issues
The Molten Salt TES Market
Figure 1-2 CSP Thermal Energy Storage Installations by Type, 2006-2010 (in MWh)
Figure 1-3 Molten Salt Thermal Energy Storage Market, 2006-2010 (in million $)
Market by Application
Figure 1-4 CSP Thermal Installations by CSP Technology Type & Storage Type, 2006-2010 (in number of installations)
Figure 1-5 CSP Thermal Energy Storage Installations by Type, 2006-2010 (in MWh)
Market by Region: The U.S. and Spain Spearhead Thermal Energy Storage
Table 1-2 CSP Plants in Operation with Molten Salt TES Systems, 2010
Figure 1-6 CSP Molten Salt Thermal Energy Storage Installations by Country, 2006-2010 (in MWh)
Molten Salt Thermal Energy Storage Market Drivers & Barriers
Figure 1-7 Key Market Drivers & Barriers Affecting the Molten Salt TES Market
The Cost of Production
Table 1-3 Cost Estimate for Molten Salt Storage (in $/kWht)
Figure 1-8 PPI for Mining of Potassium salts & Boron Compounds, Oct. 2007- Nov. 2010 (indexed to June 2007)
World Salt Production for Thermal Storage
Figure 1-9 SQM Industrial Nitrate Production and Industrial Chemical Revenue, 2007–2010 (in thousand MT & million $)
Potential Market Areas
Figure 1-10 Marginal Annual Value of Each Incremental Hour of Storage for a Typical Texas CSP Plant (in $ million/hour)
Spinning Reserve
Figure 1-11 Increase in Annual Operating Profits of a CSP Plant in Texas if Spinning Reserves can be Sold (in %)
Providing Energy at Peak Prices
Figure 1-12 Sample Dispatch of a CSP Plant with 6 Hours of TES in Texas (in MWh & $/MWh)
Laws and Regulations
CSP Legislation in Spain: The 50 MW Barrier Benefits Thermal Storage
CSP Legislation in the U.S.: Tax Credits & Loan Guarantees
Power Purchase Agreements
Job Creation
Table 1-4 New Jobs Created from the Molten Salt TES Market, 2015, 2020
Figure 1-13 U.S. SETP Thermal Energy Storage R&D Funding, FY2007–FY2011 (in million $)
Table 1-5 CSP R&D Funding by Country (not including the U.S.), 2005-2009 (in million $)
Research Efforts
Table 1-6 SETP Molten Salt Thermal Energy Storage Research Initiatives, 2011
Modifying the Temperature Characteristics of the Salt Medium
Innovative TES Systems Using Molten Salt
Figure 1-14 Global Molten Salt Thermal Energy Storage Market Forecast, 2011-2020 (in million $)
Molten Salt TES Hits the Giga-Time
Figure 1-15 Global Molten Salt TES Installations by Year for Median Forecast, 2008-2020 (in GWh)
Table 1-7 Planned CSP Plants with Molten Salt TES Systems, Status as of June 2011
Table 1-8 Cumulative Molten Salt TES Installations by Country for Median Forecast, 2010, 2015, 2020 (in GWh)


This report provides key insight into current and future markets for high-temperature molten salt thermal energy storage (TES) worldwide with detailed focus on key countries. The analysis includes technology review, applications, types of TES, market drivers, barriers and trends, job creation, funding and research and market data, 2006-2020. Commercial molten salt TES systems are only currently used in conjunction with concentrated solar power (CSP) energy generation plants.

Rather than storing energy through a chemical process like with batteries, energy can instead be stored as heat. These types of energy storage systems are referred to as thermal energy storage (TES) systems. While you can use almost any material to store heat energy, some materials are better at it than others. The top commercially available thermal energy storage system uses molten salt (i.e. salt kept at a high enough temperature so it is always a liquid). The salt used for this purpose is not your ordinary table salt. Different formulations are available which have different properties such as viscosity, melting temperature and so on. The most commonly used formulation for thermal energy storage systems is a mixture of 60% sodium nitrate (NaN03) and 40% potassium nitrate (KNO3). Both of these nitrates are commonly used as fertilizers around the world, but when used for TES systems, are refined to an industrial grade where they are at least 98% pure.

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