German ATES Technology Delivers Key Emission Reductions in Buildings

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KIT experts claim that 54% of Germany is suitable for ATES deployment, with the potential to reduce heating and cooling emissions by 75%.

Germany has only two Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage (ATES) systems, one in Bonn and the other in Rostock, but a new study of climate-friendly ATES technology reveals that more than half of the country could benefit from it in the future.

An ATES system relies on shallow groundwater sites to transfer and store excess heat or cold, depending on the season. The water retained in the basement can then be pumped as needed, depending on the heating or cooling demand of the connected buildings.

There are currently 2,800 such systems worldwide, most of them in the Netherlands, the country that pioneered ATES technologies. Sweden has about 220, while Belgium has 30. They are usually used to heat and cool large buildings, such as hospitals, universities or airports.

In the United States, the University of Stockton has installed the only campus ATES system in the country, with the help of geothermal engineers from IF Technology and Underground Energy. The Stockton system, above, powers its air conditioning. Increasingly, ATES systems are being used in residential buildings such as the new turn of the edge in Amsterdam.

While Germany is slower to adopt the technology, scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (CASE) mapped the entire country to demonstrate how ATES Low Temperature (LT) systems could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with heating and cooling, which account for 30% of the city’s energy consumption. ‘Germany.

These systems differ from high-temperature ATES, which can handle waste heat from industrial processes and power plants as well as solar thermal energy, but have very different requirements due to their higher temperatures and increased storage depths. .

The KIT team only studied the use of LV in individual buildings or complexes, and said that the deployment of ATES could reduce these building-related emissions by up to 75% compared to LV systems. existing heating and cooling. Their article was recently published in the journal geothermal energy.

They based their conclusions on calculations derived from climatic and hydrogeological data and on demand estimates. “Besides climatic factors, other aspects such as setpoint temperatures, internal heat gains, and building insulation also significantly influence heating and cooling energy demands,” the authors note.

“However, the national scope of our study does not allow us to easily integrate this type of detailed building-specific information. We therefore use degree days to approximate balanced heating and cooling demands that are not limited to existing building stock and settlement areas.

As a result, the 54% of the country deemed suitable for the future use of ATES (including those which will become so until 2050) is mainly found in three geographical regions of the North German Basin, the Upper Rhine Graben and the molasses from southern Germany.

A regional factor that affects the potential use of ATES in Germany is the type of rock. In around 35% of the country, hard rock or inland waters mean that ATES systems cannot be used. However, scientists expect a 13% increase in where ATES can be successfully deployed by 2100.

On the other hand, water protection zones (such as for drinking water) can limit the use of ATES systems by 11%, the authors note.

“Yet our study reveals that Germany has a high potential for seasonal storage of heat and cold in aquifers,” says co-author Rubin Stemmle.

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