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Even if aquifier thermal energy (ATES) systems are rather widely used energy solution for example in the Netherlands they are not applied in a country like Finland known for its rich ground water sources.  We want to make a change. Our first ATES project is being carried out by Renor in AskoRegion Lahti consisting of 30 hectars old industrial area.  Our role was to develop an overall technically feasible and commercially viable smart energy concept based on utilising ground water sources.

Four energy companies with us to explore utilisation of ATES

Our ATES journey continues, and we have kicked off a next ATES project with four energy companies.  Technical and commercial feasibility of ATES systems will be analysed for the cases of the four industrial partners: HELEN Oy, Turku Energia, NIVOS Energia and Nastola Energy foundation representing 15 companies in their district.  The project is supported by Business Finland through its Smart Energy programme.

A major challenge related to distributed renewable energy systems is seasonal energy storage.  Ground water – based systems offer a solution to storage and recovery of thermal energy through extraction and injection of groundwater from aquifers.

Although the project focuses on the utilization of groundwater energy, it is to be noted that ATES systems are usually dimensioned for some, e.g.  50% of peak power, whereby the remaining energy has to be produced with other energy sources e.g. solar heat, district heating, or waste heat from e.g. datacenters.

We want to make a leapfrog in modeling of ATES systems

There are hundreds of ATES systems implemented, but it is important to note that they are usually building-specific systems and no regional energy systems have been implemented. These also involve the challenges of modeling and, in particular, system optimization, which can be used to build one of the key competing elements of digital utilization.

We want to make a leapfrog in modeling of ATES systems. There are only a few scientific studies of integrating the subsurface modeling and the ATES system and building load simulation but no commercial applications.  We’ll even do the modeling in real time in order to provide a tool to the ATES system operator for performance optimization.  Aalto University is our partner in model integration, VTT in ground water modelling and Geological Survey of Finland in geological competence.

 

On the way to establish Finnish ATES Consortium

According to the potential inventories made, there are potentially at least 20 to 30 ATES storage locations in Finland. The commercial value of these technology deliveries is nearly EUR 100 million, and the value of energy services is about as big  over the 10-year time horizon.  We have projected to have the first commercial ATES systems being in operation within 1-2 years.

(Numerous destinations have already been implemented in Sweden and there the projects are moving to building block specific ATES systems with the potential of hundreds of new installations over the next 10 years. Similar growth opportunities are also available in Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark.  Also, in the USA, Canada and China, the ATES market is on the rise.)

Overall, the global market potential of 50 to 100 ATES systems per year is growing at around 25% per annum. Accordingly, the global market and export potential are hundreds of millions of euros.

During  the next 2-3 years our  aim is to establish  the Finnish ATES Consortium to take on a significant part of this international market ..

We invite you to join this exiting journey!