Report on underground thermal energy storage by EU-funded HeatStore research project

Report on underground thermal energy storage by EU-funded HeatStore research project Reichstag, German parliament, Berlin - site of an underground Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage system (source: flickr/ Audrius Juralevicius, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 9 Sep 2019

With heating and cooling sector being vitally important for the transition to a low-carbon and sustainable energy system, this report by the EU-funded HeatStore research project provides a great overview over underground thermal energy storage.

Earlier this year, the HeatStore project under the EU-funded Geothermica research package released the public results, including deliverables and other output.

The heating and cooling sector is vitally important for the transition to a low-carbon and sustainable energy system. Heating and cooling is responsible for half of all consumed final energy in Europe. The vast majority – 85% – of the demand is fulfilled by fossil fuels, most notably natural gas. Low carbon heat sources (e.g. geothermal, biomass, solar and waste-heat) need to be deployed and heat storage plays a pivotal role in this development. Storage provides the flexibility to manage the variations in supply and demand of heat at different scales, but especially the seasonal dips and peaks in heat demand.

Underground Thermal Energy Storage (UTES) technologies need to be further developed and need to become an integral component in the future energy system infrastructure to meet variations in both the availability and demand of energy. The main objectives of the HEATSTORE project are to lower the cost, reduce risks, improve the performance of high temperature (~25°C to ~90°C) underground thermal energy storage (HTUTES) technologies and to optimize heat network demand side management (DSM). This is primarily achieved by 6 new demonstration pilots and 8 case studies of existing systems with distinct configurations of heat sources, heat storage and heat utilization.

The 23 contributing partners from 9 countries in HEATSTORE have complementary expertise and roles. The consortium is composed of a mix of scientific research institutes and private companies. The industrial participation is considered a very strong and relevant advantage, which is instrumental for success. The combination of leading European research institutes together with small, medium and large industrial enterprises, will ensure that the tested technologies can be brought to market and valorised by the relevant stakeholders.

The report already released in April of 2019 summarizes experiences and lessons learned on Underground Thermal Energy Storage (UTES) systems from the participating EU project partners and is supplemented with input from publications on other relevant cases in, and outside, Europe.

The report covers important experiences from the first pre-investigation phase and feasibility studies and throughout the construction phase, system integration and operations. Furthermore, different national legislative, political and public issues are described.

The HEATSTORE project and this report comprise four different UTES systems:

  • High Temperature Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage (HT-ATES)
  • Borehole Thermal Energy Storage (BTES)
  • Pit Thermal Energy Storage (PTES)
  • Mine Thermal Energy Storage (MTES)

The 200+ pages report can be downloaded here (pdf).

Source: HeatStore/ Geotermica website