3 ways thermal energy storage can help buildings stay cool

July 28, 2014

Businesses require an increasing amount of energy to help with keeping their facilities, data centers and other additions of digital infrastructure cool. Growing "big data" demands mean more cooling power and a greater need for more resilient and redundant air conditioning. Computers and smartphones may seem clean, but use up a tenth of the world's electricity, according to Time magazine. In light of this enormous energy demand needed to keep computers services and other digital devices cool, companies are on the lookout for ways to improve their power usage and utilize more intuitive energy storage assets.

Calling all buildings
By implementing tools that allow data centers to rely on stored energy for their cooling needs, companies can save on cooling costs and ensure system resiliency and redundancy even as the digital space grows. Take for instance, the state of the art Tidel Park facility in India. Tidel Park is the largest IT park in India with 1.28 million sq.ft. Energy is stored in the form of ice from 10pm to 6am every day unless this schedule is changed by the plant operator. When the building is running at its maximum capacity during peak day-time hours, the energy storage replaces a portion or all chiller capacity to cool the facility and reduce operating costs.

According to the International Energy Journal, the ice based energy storage assets:

1). Reduce Tidel Park's peak cooling load
2). Reduce cooling costs by exploiting differential in night and day energy costs
3). Avoid use of a diesel generator for air conditioning during power failures

Mission critical
In the United States, a state government facility comprised of 13 buildings in Michigan reportedly needed to add more cooling to handle the addition of new buildings, technology and equipment. The new cooling system would need to reduce peak demand and create redundancy in the system. After careful consideration, 1 MW of thermal energy storage was chosen as the most flexible solution.

The complex has the option of cooling the facility using just energy storage, the absorption chillers that are powered by steam, the three centrifugal chillers, free cooling heat exchangers or any combination of the listed solutions. Plus, through avoidance of the energy during peak demand hours, the thermal energy storage has allowed the facility to save about $12,000 per month in energy costs.

Thermal energy storage helps keep the facilities and data centers cool and is the proven solution for existing buildings looking to expand their cooling system. The three main ways thermal storage can help are by reducing peak demand, controlling cooling costs and providing extra cooling on standby.

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