Heat buffers improve capacity and exploitation degree of geothermal energy sources

A. van 't Ooster, J. de Wit, E.G.O.N. Janssen, J. Ruigrok

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This research focuses on the role of heat buffers to support optimal use of combinations of traditional and renewable heat sources like geothermal heat for greenhouse heating. The objective was to determine the contribution of heat buffers to effective new combinations of resources that satisfy greenhouse heat, carbon dioxide and electricity demand at minimum cost. Tank buffers, basement buffers and aquifers were considered as short and long term buffers. Simulations were carried out for a 10ha sweet pepper and a 30ha tomato greenhouse (15ha intensively lighted). Standard heating systems based on central boiler and co-generation were used as a reference and compared with combinations of boilers, co-generators, geothermal heat and heat buffer strategies. Crop production and greenhouse climate were simulated and resource demand determined for normal greenhouse operation. A linear programming algorithm was used to apply resources and equipment available to the model at minimum cost. Results show that heat buffers help to reduce the required capacity of a geothermal heat source, and increase both the utilisation degree of the source and the cover percentage of greenhouse heat demand. The technically most feasible solution for long term buffering was the basement buffer which allows high buffer volumes without loss of useful space and heat loss contributes to greenhouse heating, however this solution was economically not feasible. Also the deep aquifer was a good option, however exploitation risks and manageability are potential problems. Integration of geothermal heat with other sources resulted in the best solutions that were both technically and economically feasible. Simulation showed at gas price level 30¿ct.m-3, that geothermal heat was cheaper than central boiler and even co-generation heat when hours of operation exceed 1000h.y-1. Instead of using large buffers, peak loads can also be covered by central boilers. Simulated solutions reduced gas consumption with 60 to 95%.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)733-740
JournalActa Horticulturae
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Buffer management
  • Combined heat and power
  • Geothermal heat


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