This report provides key insight into current and future markets for high-temperature molten salt thermal energy storage (TES) worldwide with detailed focus on key countries. The analysis includes technology review, applications, types of TES, market drivers, barriers and trends, job creation, funding and research and market data, 2006-2020. Commercial molten salt TES systems are only currently used in conjunction with concentrated solar power (CSP) energy generation plants.
Rather than storing energy through a chemical process like with batteries, energy can instead be stored as heat. These types of energy storage systems are referred to as thermal energy storage (TES) systems. While you can use almost any material to store heat energy, some materials are better at it than others. The top commercially available thermal energy storage system uses molten salt (i.e. salt kept at a high enough temperature so it is always a liquid). The salt used for this purpose is not your ordinary table salt. Different formulations are available which have different properties such as viscosity, melting temperature and so on. The most commonly used formulation for thermal energy storage systems is a mixture of 60% sodium nitrate (NaN03) and 40% potassium nitrate (KNO3). Both of these nitrates are commonly used as fertilizers around the world, but when used for TES systems, are refined to an industrial grade where they are at least 98% pure.