Every other year Deltares and BRGM organize the Aqua con soil Conference where applications and processes in subsurface and groundwater are the central topic. This year it was in Lyon and I contributed to 2 sessions.
Groundwater energy: policies, integrated technologies & management
My main contribution was in the Groundwater Energy session, where I gave pitch about my work on optimal use of subsurface space with ATES smart energy grids. There were 4 other pitches, which all ended with a statement which were then subject of discussion with a panel and audience. The statements were:
- ATES wells can and must be placed closer together to utilize full potential of subsurface space for heat storage. (Martin Bloemendal, TUDelft/KWR)
- The combination of ATES and bioremediation is very valuable but needs a high degree of organization. (Tim Grotenhuis, WUR)
- Technical solutions play a major role to overcome policy barriers. (Julian Roderiguez, Itecon)
- Combination of ATES & PVT van unlock cost-effective sustainable energy production Europe-wide. Restrictions like maximum intriltration temperatures may block the high potential. (Nanne Hoekstra, Deltares
- Economy is not a limiting factor for application of ATES in Europe. (Luciano Pozzi, Nomisma Energia)
The pitches were followed by lively discussions with the audience. I expected some opposition on my statement as it is not in line with the current practice and the precautionary principle, which is commonly used by governments around the world.
However, fortunately people acknowledge that we really need to utilize each m3 of subsurface space for sustaining our heating and cooling systems. So the discussion was not really on whether to do this or not, but more on how it works and how this may work in practice.
The pitch on the PVT system in combination with ATES caused some stir in the audience, because of the opportunities in combination with high temperature storage. Since I’m also involved in that project that was very interesting. Afterwards I Talked to a Chinese developer of district heating networks who is interested in solar heating systems in combination with high temperature storage in the subsurface, as China now only wants to develop “clean-district heating”.
Subsurface Engineering to optimize diverse use options
My second contribution was as a co-author in the presentation of Tim Grotenhuis of Wageningen University in the session on subsurface engineering to optimize diverse use options. In his talk “Groundwater energy storage in the sustainable energy transition”, Tim showed how the increased use of groundwater with ATES may affect contamination sites in urban areas. Both ATES systems and contamination sites cumulate in urban areas, so he talked about his research on increasing bioremediation with ATES. My contribution was the fact that with our smart ATES concept, ATES well hydraulic radii overlap, which then increases spreading and dilution of contaminants as was showed by one of my MSc students, Inge Phernambuqc.