New opportunities through the use of aquifer storage

According to the results of a current study from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, seasonal heat and cold storage in underground rock layers can make a significant contribution to the decarbonisation of the construction sector.

The aquifer storage principle at a glance: Cooling in the summer (left) and heating in the winter is possible using the aquifers underground. Graphics: Ruben Stemmle (AGW/KIT)

The next complaint was made recently: Germany is still lagging behind in meeting the climate protection targets agreed at European level. The building sector in particular is still far from the targets set by the EU for 2030. More than 30% of the country’s final energy consumption is currently used for heating and cooling buildings. Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have therefore investigated what opportunities the increased involvement of thermal aquifer storage could open up for the decarbonisation of this sector. In their study published in the journal Geothermal Energy in October 2022, they attest that the use of natural reservoirs has great potential to achieve an energy supply with lower emissions.

Need-based caching

Aquifers in the subsoil therefore have a high ability to store thermal energy. The surrounding stone has an insulating effect. For example, heat from solar heating systems or waste heat from industrial plants could be stored underground by drilling, and the heated water could be pumped back up when needed, for example to supply heating networks or heat pumps, the Karlsruhe researchers believe. Low-temperature aquifer near-surface thermal energy storage (LT-ATES) has been shown to be particularly effective. Here, the temperature of the water is not much higher than that of the surroundings, so little heat is lost during storage.

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