Green heat for industries: renewables production is booming, now storage becomes strategic

28 March 2023

Green heat for industries: renewables production is booming, now storage becomes strategic

by Letizia Magaldi, Magaldi Green Energy Executive Vice President

It's enough to put together a couple of data to understand how the energy world is changing - and fast. According to Bloomberg data, about a third of global investments (1.1 billion dollars in 2022) in low-carbon energy technologies were directed to the renewable energy sector. According to the IEA - International Energy Agency report, the world's total capacity of renewable energy is expected to double by 2027, becoming the primary source of global electricity production by 2025 and surpassing coal.

We're seeing a revolution taking place right before our eyes.

In Italy, the growth and penetration of renewable energy has been significant, considering that in 2010, only 356 Italian municipalities had electric or thermal plants based on renewables. According to a recent report by Legambiente, today there are

- 7,776 municipalities with at least one photovoltaic system installed
- 7,223 municipalities with a solar thermal plant
- 3,616 municipalities with bioenergy systems
- 1,489 municipalities that make use of hydroelectric energy

In the coming years, the path promises a strong acceleration. The Italian Elettricità Futura 2030 Plan, in fact, aims to connect 85 GW of new renewable energy to the grid, bringing the electricity mix share to 84%. While increasing production is a meaningful step, it cannot achieve the goal of sustainability and energy autonomy alone. Producing energy is crucial, but so is storing it.

That's why energy storage has emerged as a critical sector of the transition.
Once the 50% penetration of renewables in the system is surpassed, the need for storage becomes exponential, and electrochemical batteries -which have short release capacity- will be important but not sufficient. There will be an increasing need for weekly and seasonal storage systems. What is now emerging, therefore, is a scenario where multiple innovations coexist, forming a cluster of various energy technologies that must work together to build the infrastructure of the future.

MGTES - a sand-based solution.

Among the different storage systems, there is an innovation entirely Made in Italy: MGTES - Magaldi Green Thermal Energy Storage. The new "sand batteries" patented and developed by the Magaldi Group, are now produced on an industrial scale at our plant in Buccino, in the province of Salerno, Italy. The system can be charged with excess electrical and thermal energy, stores it for an interval ranging from 4 to over 10 hours up to weeks (Long Duration Energy Storage) with very limited losses; and then discharges it on demand, when solar and wind are not available. In this way, the system allows for the storage of stores renewable energy when it is in surplus and releases green thermal energy for industrial consumption, balancing the existing imbalance between demand and supply and contributing to stabilizing the grid. The sand fluidization system has significant advantages:

- large thermal storage capacity (up to several GWh)
- high thermal efficiency
- fast response times
- no environmental impact thanks to the use of natural materials

Each MGTES module can store 50 thermal MW and generates high-temperature steam, starting from 150-400 degrees, necessary for energy-intensive industries (paper, food & beverage, chemical, plastic).
Majority of industrial heat demand globally met by fossil fuels.

Globally, 70% of the industrial sector's energy demand is still required as heat, mostly in the form of steam to power various industrial processes, and about 90% of this demand is met with fossil fuels. Long-duration energy storage systems are essential to ensure continuity in the use of energy from renewable sources and thus overcome the intermittency due to weather conditions. The sand fluidized storage systems developed by Magaldi Green Energy offer a promising thermal storage solution to address this challenge.


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