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An often unrecognized but important component of the developing market for energy storage systems, thermal energy storage (TES) is most often used to provide cooling capacity for commercial buildings. Today, TES systems are also increasingly seen as an effective means of shifting electricity use from daytime peak periods to less expensive periods of the day or at night, saving money and increasing overall system efficiency.

According to a recent report from Pike Research, a part of Navigant's Energy Practice, total revenue from worldwide sales of TES will grow steadily over the remainder of this decade, reaching $3.6 billion by 2020.

"Thermal energy storage has strong potential in markets such as the European Union, which have a heavy emphasis on energy efficiency initiatives and rising levels of renewable energy generation," says research director Kerry-Ann Adamson. “Growth is also expected in the less-regulated U.S. market, however, where industry representatives project as much as a quarter of a billion dollars of investment in TES, if pending legislation is passed by Congress.”

TES has not traditionally been packaged and sold as a stand-alone appliance or service, the report notes. Thus, thermal storage companies tend to offer their technologies as part of a larger project, for new construction of buildings, or as part of a major retrofit project that will replace or expand an existing cooling system.

Being offered as part of a larger project is, in fact, a key aspect of the economics of TES installation, according to the report. Even its most ardent advocates recognize that the greatest value for installing a system comes as part of a new project design, or when investment is triggered by a major event that requires a comprehensive upgrade.


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