September 27 (SeeNews) - German engineering major Siemens AG (ETR:SIE) is developing a thermal storage system for wind power with “an extremely low-cost set-up”, it announced on Tuesday.
In partnership with the Technical University Hamburg Harburg (TUHH) and urban utility company Hamburg Energie, Siemens currently operates a test set-up for the storage solution, called Future Energy Solution (FES). The system converts excess wind power to heat in rock fill and stores and protects it with an insulated cover. A steam turbine converts the heat back to electricity when additional power is needed.
The store is being tested at temperatures over 600 degrees Celsius.
How to make charging and discharging the store particularly efficient is the current focus of the research work. The current set-up only tests the thermal requirements for the storage process, but the complete energy conversion system is planned to be tested in the spring of 2017. For the purpose, researchers are establishing a complete thermal store on the Trimet aluminum smelter site in Hamburg-Altenwerder that will be able to store some 36 MWh of energy. The Siemens compact steam turbine that will be used as part of the project will produce up to 1.5 MW of electricity for up to 24 hours a day, the company said.
The effectiveness achieved at this early development phase is seen to reach 25%, but the concept has the potential to double that in the future.
"Because we are working here with tested thermal components and a series-ready steam turbine, we will be able to offer a practical solution within a few years. Our complete experimental system will be operational in just around 15 months," said Till Barmeier, Siemens' project manager.
The project is financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.