Proposed geothermal energy solution could turn aquifers into huge batteries

Daniel Sims

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Forward-looking: Heating and cooling buildings through fossil fuels is a major contributor to the carbon emissions driving climate change. A new study presents an alternative temperature regulation method that lowers emissions and significantly decreases the strain on power grids by storing and exchanging heat using underground water.

Humans have dug wells to retrieve drinking water from aquifers for thousands of years. However, since groundwater maintains relatively stable temperatures, it can store and exchange heat. A new study in Applied Energy claims that many structures could heat and cool themselves using groundwater, turning aquifers into renewable energy sources.

An aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES) system would use two wells to pump water in and out of an aquifer – one hot and one cold. The warm water is stored underground and pumped out to heat the structure in the winter. During the summer, a building could pump cool water out of the cold well while a heat exchanger and heat pump transfer the heat from the structure into the water, similar to water coolers for PCs.

The process is more efficient than conventional heating and air conditioning because it reuses the same water and heat year-round. The pumps and exchangers require separate energy sources, but they could rely on wind or solar energy to make the entire process based on renewables.

The primary challenge facing ATES is that it requires aquifers. The groundwater doesn't need to be drinkable, but surveyors need to ensure its flow is easily controllable. Further study is needed to determine its cost and impact on renewable energy integration before ATES can gain wide adoption.

Aquifer thermal energy storage follows a principle similar to gravity batteries. A January study proposed that moving sand up and down abandoned mine shafts could act as a kinetic energy generator, storing and releasing the energy using gravity. The method could theoretically store tremendous amounts of power because there are millions of compatible mine shafts across the globe.

A €2 billion, 14-year project in Switzerland reached completion last year, applying the same fundamental concept to water. Instead of storing and releasing heat, the power plant moves the water back and forth between two elevations to reuse hydroelectric power.

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Interesting article and innovative solution.
I am taking the opportunity to congratulate again TechSpot editors and stuff.
I find more and more interesting articles and also a raising quality in content.
Almost everyday I can find and learn new things from TechSpot articles, even beyond computer hardware, like astronomy and engineering.
Keep up the great work TechSpot.
Citing Commander Sheppard from Mas Effect: "TechSpot is my favorite website on the Citadel".
 
IIRC Sabine Hossenfelder had a video on such an idea a couple of months ago. Her YouTube channel is terrific btw - a wide range of tech topics in no-BS presentations by a particle physicist / astronomer. It doesn't get any better.
 
IIRC Sabine Hossenfelder had a video on such an idea a couple of months ago. Her YouTube channel is terrific btw - a wide range of tech topics in no-BS presentations by a particle physicist / astronomer. It doesn't get any better.
While I love her channel I've found that her recent videos, roughly the ones made in the last 3-4 months are clock baity and have increasingly sensationalized. I do blame manipulation of the youtube algorithm for this but her new content isn't as good as her old content
 
I have been thinking of storing energy in water but for prolonged storage, like between seasons, you need to make sure that energy isn't lost to the ambient. I'm not aware of a method to insulate something that big for 6 months, let alone be cost effective.
 
"A January study proposed that moving sand up and down abandoned mine shafts could act as a kinetic energy generator, storing and releasing the energy using gravity. The method could theoretically store tremendous amounts of power because there are millions of compatible mine shafts across the globe." - Unfortunately when you look at the basic maths of doing this you find it just doesn't work. In the TS article, many folk pointed out the issues, and I assume that's why the author didn't provide a link.

https://www.techspot.com/news/97306-gravity-batteries-abandoned-mines-could-power-whole-planet.html
 
The one thing being omited is how few of these are available. West of the Mississippi most are being drained by constantly pumping out the water to feed crops due to weather changes. Since the theory has been around for decades this is hardly new news .....
 
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