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Another, fairly cheap, way of storing energy is thermal storage in water. When there is a lot of electricity, you can change it into heat and store it in water. This may offer a good solution for new housing districts and for the transition into natural gas free housing districts. Ecovat in Veghel has developed a storage tank in which a large quantity of heat is stored underground in water.

Solar Thermal Storage Tank

That is a unique feature of this Dutch technology! This thermal tank has a 13 meter diameter and a 16 meter depth. Enexis Netbeheer and Ecovat, together with VITO Flemish Institute for Techological Research , are investigating whether thermal seasonal storage can contribute to a local heat grid and how the system can be of aid regarding the storage of surplus renewable energy. The functioning of the Ecovat can be practically tested with the help of a contribution by the European Horizon subsidy fund.

Enexis Netbeheer, as a partner, provides contribution to the project by making the connection to the local grid. It also provides detailed information about the local grid throughout the study. In cooperation with VITO, Enexis Netbeheer will study what thermal storage may imply, by simulating various scenarios on the local distribution grid.

The pilot serves as a first underground seasonal thermal energy storage demo project. A surplus of energy that is generated in summer, e. In winter the stored energy can still be used, for instance for heating housing districts, office buildings or utility buildings.

Underground Thermal Energy Storage | Kun Sang Lee | Springer

October 29, The idea is simple. A team headed by Franz Georg Pikl, a Ph. The first element is pumped storage hydropower, a technology that has been steadily refined over the past plus years. It is currently the most reliable, efficient and durable form of electricity storage. Pumped storage hydropower schemes are mainly found in mountainous countries, as they require a difference in elevation between two reservoirs, as well as sufficient amounts of water.

When large volumes of power are generated, the excess electricity is used to pump the water from the lower reservoir to the higher one. If electricity demand increases, the water flows back down and drives turbines that in turn generate power. Pikl has implemented this principle completely underground.

Subterranean tunnels are used to create the difference in elevation between the two underground reservoirs needed to produce electricity, regardless of the topography.

This minimises the area required, and simplifies both the process of finding a location as well as the mandatory approval procedure. Heat accumulators, where the thermal energy is stored, form the second component of the new storage concept.

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Underground thermal energy storage helps prevent peaks in power grid

Thanks to its high specific heat capacity, water serves as an additional thermal energy storage medium for the underground pumped storage power plant. Thermal energy is stored and used by means of heat exchangers installed in the underground reservoirs. When demand for heat is high, it can be supplied directly to consumers via district heating transmission lines. Franz Georg Pikl also integrated district cooling technology into the concept — this method of cooling buildings is becoming increasingly significant — in the shape of absorption chillers.

When required — in other words, on warm days — the hot water drives the chillers, which produce cooling energy that is distributed to customers along district cooling transmission lines. To ensure a constant supply of cooling energy to various temperature zones, this system can be modified by cooling the water of the underground pumped storage hydropower scheme — which could then be labelled a "cold-water pumped storage hydropower plant.

How Energy Storage Works

Technological and energy-related feasibility studies underline the high degree of efficiency and cost-effectiveness of this hybrid storage concept. Thanks to this new developed energy storage, various renewable energy sources can be bundled by means of infrastructure connected to the energy grid, which in turn will help the energy industry to overcome the challenges it faces. The facility also stands out for its profitability. The payback period is shorter than with conventional pumped storage power stations," Pikl explains.

The ecological aspects of the project also make it an attractive proposition: zero-emission operation is possible, no open spaces are required and the energy storage respectively power plant does not affect the natural water balance, which in turn reduces the environmental impact. Pikl is currently attempting to enlist the support of energy suppliers and companies for construction of a prototype hot-water pumped storage.

Underground Thermal Energy Storage

Hitting the Paris Agreement target of limiting temperature increases to 1. Our system could be one of the building blocks for safeguarding future energy supply using renewable s, and would also represent an energy-efficient, environmentally friendly step forward.

Energy Concept

The structures could operate for a long time, meaning they would also amortize in climate protection terms. More from General Engineering. Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more.

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    How Is It Used?

    The technology he developed could cover 90 percent of the world's energy supply. Credit: taudacher - TU Graz. Basic concept of combining a pumped storage power plant with a thermal energy storage system.