Workshop – Smart Geothermal Heating & Cooling of Buildings

The workshop organized on ‘Smart Geothermal Heating & Cooling of Buildings’ in Hasselt on 22 & 23 September was the third event in a series of workshops being organized by ENBRI members. The event was attended by 25 participants.

Speakers from the European ENBRI forum, Elgip, the Flemisch Innovation Platform and practice had the opportunity to engage in discussions on geothermal energy generation and storage and to exchange information and discuss about plans for future collaboration.

During the 1st day which took place in the offices of the local Contractors Federation in Limburg, a keynote lecture on the ‘state-of-the-art of Geothermal Applications in Belgium’ was given followed by presentations on the Smart Geotherm Traject, the European PPP-EeB project E-HUB, Energy Research and Didactic Polygon in the town of Velenje, Energy Storage Possibilities for Zero-emission Buildings and Sustainable building by dynamic simulation and geothermal heating and cooling. The technical workshop was followed in the evening by a visit to the office building “Hollandsch Huys”. In this building concrete core activation in combination with borehole thermal energy storage (BTES) has been implemented for heating or cooling the building.

The second day the participants were welcomed in the provincial house of Limburg, in the board room presentations were given on the development and practical experiences with shallow geothermal applications, information was provided on the Center for Shallow Geothermal Research, the European Thermo-Map Project, the Mineres and Hybra project, and the KIC’s Knowlede and Innovation Centre “Energy Ville” situated in Waterschei. The workshop was closed with a visit of the Cegeka/Provincie Limburg Tower Building which has a very typical V-type architecture.

At the end of the 2-days workshop an inquiry was held among the attendees.
Participants expressed their satisfaction on the technical content as well as on the organization.

In particular almost everyone was in favor of creating an ENBRI WG dealing the subject of Smart Geothermal.It would be a good idea to meet again in one year or later to discuss the progress.It is obvious that Smart Geothermal Heating and Cooling of Buildings is an important way to deal with the issue of the year 2020: 20% less use of energy, 20% use of renewable energy and 20% less greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed even in “nearly zero-energy buildings” there will be a remaining need for heating and cooling.

The use of thermal energy is known for centuries for the production of heat and electricity; the application for the heating and cooling of individual buildings is fairly new but is a fast developing technology.

Besides the Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage systems (ATES) and Borehole Thermal Energy Storage systems (BTES), the energy piles are the combination of a structural and a thermal function.

The storage of thermal energy can also be combined with the storage of bio-energy or solar energy e.g. from roads and pavements. The temporarily excess of this kind energy can be stored underground and harvested later on.

Although the storage and activation of energy in structural elements are fast developing towards common-knowledge, there is also intensive research for thermal storage in thermo-chemical components.

The application of this thermal energy in combination with structural and non-structural storage systems and ground/water heating pumps demands a sophisticated and smart monitoring and control system in order to meet the standards of comfort.

Smart thermal systems should be integrated from the beginning in the design of the building. The concept can also be designed on a district level.

Above that, examples of snow-removal or de-icing of pavements or even airports, show the high potential of this technology, and prove that many other important energy-saving applications are fully developing.

Investigators should not only take care for technical solutions, the proof of concept is also given by ecological and economical studies. Life cycle analysis and life cycle cost analysis therefore will always be an important part of the project.

Further research, organisation and education will be necessary in the future to bring smart geothermal concepts to well-proven and applicable systems.

It is evident that the regional, national or European on-going projects, which were presented during this workshop, will deliver a major contribution to this evolution. Moreover, most of the participants expressed their willingness to join forces an to set up a forum in order to exchange knowledge and experiences and to look for synergies. It is believed that this approach will foster future collaboration, possibly in the framework of a European program.