When considering the deployment of renewable energy sources in systems, the challenge of their utilization comes from their time instability when a mismatch between production and demand occurs. With the integration of thermal storages into systems that utilize renewable energy sources, such mismatch can be evened out. The use of phase-change materials (PCMs) as thermal storage has a theoretical advantage over the sensible one because of their high latent heat that is released or accumulated during the phase-change process. Therefore, the present paper is a review of latent thermal storages in hydronic systems for heating, cooling and domestic hot water in buildings. The work aims to offer an overview on applications of latent thermal storages coupled with heat pumps and solar collectors. The review shows that phase-change materials improve the release of heat from thermal storage and can supply heat or cold at a desired temperature level for longer time periods. The PCM review ends with the results from one of the Horizon2020 research projects, where indirect electrical storage in the form of thermal storage is considered. The review is a technological outline of the current state-of-the-art technology that could serve as a knowledge base for the practical implementation of latent thermal storages. The paper ends with an overview of energy storage maturity and the objectives from different roadmaps of European bodies.
Keywords: PCM cold storage; PCM heat storage; PCM maturity; PCM thermal storage; PCMs for cooling; PCMs for heating; PCMs in hydronic systems; TRL of PCM; latent heat storage; latent thermal storage.