With a constantly changing society, one of the major changes we have to assess in the upcoming years is the aim for a sustainable world.
Energy is one of the major topics to be discussed in this aspect as energy production is one of the most influential factors of pollution and climate change. Countries around the world are trying to come up with new solutions and agreeing on critical decisions for the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.
Right now universities and companies around Europe are working to reach the sustainability goals set by the European Union for the year 2020 which are set to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by 20% in relation to the year 1990 and have a 20% of total energy consumption coming from renewable energy with an increased efficiency.
In this blog I want to write about one innovative solution called UTES which stands for Underground Thermal Energy Storage. This idea comes from the clever physics law of conservation of energy which means that we there is energy, that energy is not lost, but it just passes among systems, it’s never destroyed. Heat is energy we can use, and UTES takes advantage of this and aims to store energy through the seasons capturing heat in the summer and using this stored energy in the winter where the demand for heat (energy) rises. This would give a greener solution to heating houses and buildings instead of using fossil fuels and gas to heat up households and other buildings. Similarly, the cold in winters can be stored in wells for cooling purposes in the summer.
The concept of this system is usually using water through pipes and being stored in underground wells, as water is a very efficient energy carrier. This water is passing through pipes that pass on the surface of the ground and gets heated or cooled depending on the season and the outside temperature.
The system consists of 2 wells, which are a cold water well and a warm water well and are constantly exchanging water so that the same water is always used. During summer, the flow direction is reversed such that (cold) groundwater is extracted from the cold storage well and injected in the heat storage well passing through the walls of the building that is benefiting from this system.
This system can be implemented on a large scale where big ammounts of energy are stored for the entire cities but also on a small scale where every house has its own heating system instead of the traditional ones. Municipalities could work with start-up entrepreneurs to sell this system to private households and businesses interested and slowly growing the market for it bringing a win-win for everyone.
This could be a solution for energy consumption for household’s temperature control for many countries that have intense summers and intense winters during the year which are also usually countries that have the largest urban areas. Leiden for example has a good potential to use this kind of technologies as other cities in the Netherlands are already applying them like Utrecht with a very positive impact on the reduction of energy consumption.
Minor Sustainable Development