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Reference Number EP/V041878/1
Title Aquifer thermal energy storage for decarbonisation of heating and cooling: Overcoming technical, economic and societal barriers to UK deployment
Status Started
Energy Categories ENERGY EFFICIENCY (Other) 50%;
OTHER POWER and STORAGE TECHNOLOGIES (Energy storage) 50%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields SOCIAL SCIENCES (Economics and Econometrics) 10%;
SOCIAL SCIENCES (Sociology) 10%;
ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY (Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering) 40%;
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences) 40%;
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Environmental dimensions) 30%;
Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Policy and regulation) 10%;
Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Technology acceptance) 20%;
Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Other sociological economical and environmental impact of energy) 20%;
Other (Energy technology information dissemination) 20%;
Principal Investigator Professor MD Jackson
No email address given
Department of Earth Sciences
Imperial College London
Award Type Standard
Funding Source EPSRC
Start Date 01 November 2021
End Date 31 October 2024
Duration 36 months
Total Grant Value £1,524,750
Industrial Sectors Energy
Region London
Programme Energy : Energy
 
Investigators Principal Investigator Professor MD Jackson , Department of Earth Sciences, Imperial College London (99.991%)
  Other Investigator Mr DP Boon , Geology & Regional Geophysics, British Geological Survey (BGS) - NERC (0.001%)
Dr M Damaschke , BGS Laboratories, British Geological Survey (BGS) - NERC (0.001%)
Professor S (Sevket ) Durucan , Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London (0.001%)
Mr E Hough , Geology & Regional Geophysics, British Geological Survey (BGS) - NERC (0.001%)
Dr A (Anna ) Korre , Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London (0.001%)
Dr I Kountouris , Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London (0.001%)
Dr L Ma , Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science, University of Manchester (0.001%)
Dr I Staffell , Business School, Imperial College London (0.001%)
Professor KG Taylor , Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester (0.001%)
  Industrial Collaborator Project Contact , Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) (0.000%)
Project Contact , National Grid plc (0.000%)
Project Contact , Environmental Agency (0.000%)
Project Contact , Mott Macdonald UK Ltd (0.000%)
Project Contact , Heat Pump Association (0.000%)
Project Contact , Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (0.000%)
Project Contact , Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) (0.000%)
Project Contact , Storenergy United Kingdom (0.000%)
Project Contact , Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (0.000%)
Project Contact , HayesTec (0.000%)
Project Contact , IFTech (0.000%)
Web Site
Objectives
Abstract The UK uses around 50 GW of energy to heat and cool buildings, only 6% of which comes from renewable sources. Reducing building sector emissions is an essential part of the UK's decarbonisation strategy for achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. However, heat is challenging to decarbonise due to its extreme seasonality. Daily heat demand ranges from around 15 to 150 GW, so new technologies with inter-seasonal storage are essential.Heating buildings in winter and cooling them in summer produces waste heat or cool that is currently lost. We propose a technology to instead store this and re-use when required, by warming or cooling groundwater that is pumped underground and stored in an aquifer (porous rock mass). In summer, warm water is stored to provide heating in winter; in winter, cool water is stored to provide cooling in summer.This technology is termed aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES) and has been widely applied in other countries, notably the Netherlands where there are over 2500 ATES installations. These have shown that the technology is highly efficient, recycling up to 90% of the energy that would otherwise be wasted. ATES can be deployed with renewable electricity sources, storing excess output to help ease the challenges of integrating >40 GW of intermittent offshore wind energy.The UK has only a handful of projects, mainly located in London and supplying less than 0.025% of UK demand. Yet it has high potential for ATES: there are seasonal variations in temperature and widespread aquifers where heat and cool can be stored. Moreover, there is increasing demand for cooling as well as heating, as summers become hotter and longer.Experience in other countries has shown that widespread deployment of ATES can be prevented by technical, economic and societal barriers, such as uncertainty in the response of aquifers to energy storage, a lack of knowledge of the economic value and decarbonisation potential of the technology, and lack of public understanding or acceptance.This project brings together geoscientists, geoengineers, economists and social scientists to address key barriers to deployment of ATES in the UK, proposing solutions that inform government policy, the regulatory framework, planning authorities, and energy and infrastructure companies. The project integrates four key strands, combining technical geoscience and geoengineering research with economics and social science research. This integrated approach is essential to address deployment barriers.Our overall goal is to deliver solutions and recommendations that facilitate an increase the capacity of ATES in the UK to several GW (a thousand-fold increase on current capacity) with projects widely deployed across the UK. Our research will determine the UK capacity for ATES, linking supply and demand and creating maps for policy makers and planners. We will understand how a key UK aquifer responds to ATES by conducting field trials and laboratory experiments. We will identify strategies to deploy and operate ATES systems that maximize storage capacity and efficiency, while accounting for uncertainties in aquifer behaviour that are inevitable when engineering natural systems.Our economic research will quantify the economic value of ATES, accounting for the lifecycle costs of installation and operation, and the added value that ATES can deliver to the wider energy system storing excess renewable energy from wind and solar in times of low demand. We will quantify the decarbonisation potential of ATES in a lifecycle context, so it can be objectively compared against other low carbon heating and cooling options. Our social science research will ensure responsible deployment of ATES, promoting the co-design of ATES projects in line with societal priorities and values. It will use international examples to identify best practice, and identify and quantify broader societal benefits, such as the potential to develop a demand for skilled jobs.
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 15/12/21