California City Keeps Cool with Thermal Energy Storage

What’s the key to a more stable, energy-efficient grid–i.e., the smart grid? While there are a number of important factors that will have to come together to make our energy consumption more sustainable, thermal energy storage may pose an important piece of the puzzle.

In Glendale, California, air conditioning units typically pull from the grid at peak electricity times, creating an infrastructure burden in a heavily populated area. But now–thanks to a new, recently announced partnership between Ice Energy and municipal utility Glendale Water & Power (GWP) –the city will be making use of a 1.5 Megawatts (MW) energy storage system that will allow AC units to run on electricity collected and stored from the night before, reducing burden on the grid as well as costs to tax-payers.  Under the initial phase of the program, conventional AC units on 28 Glendale city facilities will be replaced with new, higher-efficiency units and paired with Ice Bear energy storage systems to create a hybrid cooling solution expected to reduce air conditioning energy demand – typically 40-50% of a municipal building’s electricity use during peak hours – by as much as 95%.

Ice Energy

image via Ice Energy

This $4.25 million project was underwritten in large part by in federal stimulus funding from the U.S. Department of Energy for GWP’s Smart Grid project, which includes an advanced metering program for electricity (including energy storage) with the goal of increasing efficiency and reducing energy consumption in the company’s areas of service.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.