Third Power Member Spotlight

Third Power is an energy storage startup based in Bedford, NY.   The company is based upon a patent-pending, novel and unique technology that uses off-the-shelf components to provide thermal energy storage capabilities to thermal-cycle power plants thereby enhancing their capacity and performance.   

Thermal-cycle power plants  - whose heat sources may be coal, oil, gas or nuclear  - provide 90% of the world’s electricity.  Third Power’s approach is to integrate ice storage systems into these power plants, which can lower the temperature of air or water used by the plants and thereby boost summer capacity by 2% to as much as 12% for three to twelve hours on a single charge.  This unique thermal solution brings low-cost, high capacity storage to the grid and by leveraging existing infrastructure, can achieve unit costs of $50-200 per kWh and $300-650 per kW. The technology is highly scalable, with achievable capacities ranging from 1 to 100+ MW.

The company was incorporated in 2011, based on an idea developed by its founder, Matthew Rosenfeld, over the course of the two years prior. In its first two years, Third Power has focused on engaging with generation owners to explore ways its technology can solve key problems they are facing. The company held conversations with plants on Long Island, and upstate, as well as further afield in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Texas and the Mid-West. In parallel, the company refined the thermodynamic models of its solution and projected the economic impact based on NYISO, PJM, MISO and ERCOT market prices. 

Third Power, in partnership with Wheelabrator Technologies and Black and Veatch, performed a feasibility study of using Wheelabrator’s 60 MW Westchester waste-to-energy plant in Peekskill, NY as a potential demonstration host for their technology.  Sponsored by NYSERDA, the study determined that the system could be built on-site using existing equipment, and would have a meaningful impact on plant operations and economics.

Deploying ice storage is a way to unlock cooling constraints at steam-cycle plants.  The concept is based on the fact that many power plants lose substantial amounts of capacity in hot weather.   As an example, river-cooled plants are restricted to a maximum temperature of their outflows but the output of steam-cycle power plants depends on the temperature difference between inflow and outflow.  By the use of ice cooling, outflow temperatures can be reduced resulting in a 4-20% capacity boost for the plant even when taking into account the energy used to freeze the coolant.  Storing energy in the form of ice during off-peak periods leads to increased energy output for the power plant and an effective system of thermal discharge management.

A second modality for Third Power’s technology is air chilling for gas turbines.   The energy output of gas turbines drops off when it is warmer because warmer air is less dense thereby reducing the mass flow rate in the turbine.  With the use of large-scale ice storage to provide cooling for the air driving the turbines, the output power of the plant can be increased.  By using electricity generated during cooler, off-peak hours to produce the ice, the system provides load shifting.

Third Power’s technology can be deployed at a variety of thermal-cycle plants of both large and small capacity.  Because it installs on existing power plants, it can be considered as a plant improvement and falls easily into existing regulatory frameworks.  Like other energy storage technologies, it can be applied in different ways including capacity increasing, load shifting, and providing backup reserves.  Matthew Rosenfeld, CEO of Third Power notes that “When we started this company, we looked at some of the big problems that energy storage could help resolve and tried to find creative solutions using existing technologies that we could improve upon down the road.”

The company is primarily focused on project development at this time and is actively seeking target plants at which to install its technology.   It is also involved in R&D efforts to develop novel ice-generating equipment that will further lower costs and increase the scalability of its technology.  With a technology based on off-the-shelf components from multiple manufacturers, Third Power is an energy storage solution that is ready to be deployed.