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Thermal Energy Consulting

What We Do

Thermal Energy Consulting, or TEC for short, is a customizable solution we offer to decarbonize and improve grid resiliency while reducing energy costs for utilities and their customers. Our cost-effective solutions integrate commercial heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration system loads (thermal energy) with the electricity grid and natural gas pipeline supplies. This integration maximizes system efficiency and productivity while shaping, shedding, or shifting loads to align with renewable energy supply and pipeline capacity.

In simpler terms, we ensure that thermal energy is generated, stored, and consumed at optimal times to reduce costs, minimize waste, and maximize energy efficiency.

illustration of a building and a thermometer
illustration of electric grid with solar panels and wind turbines

Why Do We Need This?

Simply put, grid reliability is declining and we can’t afford to keep doing things the same way.

  • Extreme weather conditions result in high electric loads and supply disruptions.
  • The infamous duck curve that started in California has made its way to Arizona and is heading everywhere that solar generation will be built (in other words – everywhere).
  • Storing electricity, e.g. batteries, is very expensive because the materials to build them are rare and resource-intensive, and supply chains can be disrupted for geopolitical reasons.

There’s a Better Way

That better way is spelled TES, for Thermal Energy Storage.

TES, primarily with phase change materials, offers a less expensive, more reliable, zero-loss, safer, simpler, and locally-sourced alternative to electric batteries. TES systems can be cycled daily for arbitrage savings and consistent peak load reduction. It is most ideal for commercial and industrial frozen and refrigerated storage.

Through Thermal Energy Consulting, we can customize a TES solution that works best for your facility.

illustration of woman with battery, light bulb, and gears

Thermal Energy Storage Benefits

Grid Resiliency

Load shaping, shedding, or shifting aligns with supply and capacity, creating a more resilient grid

Reduced Costs

Utilities decrease energy and capacity costs, which reduces energy services for customers

Longer Life Span

Thermal Energy Storage lasts an average of 5xs longer than lithium-ion batteries

Less Waste

Reduce your energy waste with increased efficiency

Carbon Reduction

Less energy = less carbon = happier, healthier planet

Sourced in the USA

TES solutions are made with plentiful, safe materials

Improved Appeal

A more reliable grid = a more desirable territory for new businesses

Reduced Risk

Managing energy load away from periods of high risk reduces the chance of outages

Non-Invasive Approach

We develop customized TES solutions with easy-to-retrofit applications for your building

How Does TES Work?

Thermal energy includes sensible (temperature) and latent (phase change) heat transfer storage. Phase changes include boiling water or refrigerants from liquid to vapor, and condensing vapors back to liquids. Phase changes also include releasing heat to freeze liquids, known as phase change materials (PCMs), from liquid to solid and then absorbing heat to melt back to liquids. These phase changes release and absorb heat at a constant temperature.

The video to the left demonstrates this process through a fun PCM experiment, conducted by our CEO – Jeff Ihnen. Jeff recently conducted another PCM experiment studying ice, and you can view that by clicking here.

TES – 65 GW of DERs Ready for Deployment

At the end of 2022, there was 11 GW of grid-connected electric batteries in the U.S. The peak load is about 700 GW. About 10% of that peak load, or 65 GW, is commercial and industrial refrigeration and chilled water systems. This is a huge slice of untapped distributed energy resources for grid resilience and efficiency!

In our recent publication in the AESP Energy Intel Magazine, we explore how Thermal Energy Storage can solve this shortage while building a more resilience and efficient grid.

illustration of energy, storage, solar, and wind energy
Image shows a graphic of the world with solar and wind energy along the edge with trees.

Golden Opportunities with Efficiency, Demand Response, & Electrification

The challenges of decarbonization are making low prices accessible to all customers and maintaining reliability and grid resilience. There are many mitigation strategies to minimize the frequent and large gaps between available supply and load.

In this paper, we explore strategies to shrink the gaps between available supply and load, including efficiency, thermal energy storage, building design, waste reduction, and demand response. A summary of the results and next steps are provided at the end.

In this webinar, Stan Nabozny and Jeff Ihnen of Michaels Energy introduce Thermal Energy Storage (TES) with PCMs as a cost-effective way to turn buildings into batteries and shift MWs of load from the grid. We review multiple case examples and applications of utilizing TES at scale for a more reliable and resilient grid.

Illustration of 4 people working at desk

Looking for a partner to help with your energy programs?


Michaels Energy has been using our passion for all-things-energy to help building owners, utilities, consultants and partners save energy and design high performing systems, processes and programs since 1984. Energy efficiency, resource preservation, and long-term cost effectiveness are an integral part of everything we do.