Increasing market opportunities for renewable energy technologies with innovations in aquifer thermal energy storage

N. Hoekstra*, M. Pellegrini, M. Bloemendal, G. Spaak, A. Andreu Gallego, J. Rodriguez Comins, T. Grotenhuis, S. Picone, A.J. Murrell, H.J. Steeman, A. Verrone, P. Doornenbal, M. Christophersen, L. Bennedsen, M. Henssen, S. Moinier, C. Saccani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Heating and cooling using aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES) has hardly been applied outside the Netherlands, even though it could make a valuable contribution to the energy transition. The Climate-KIC project “Europe-wide Use of Energy from aquifers” – E-USE(aq) – aimed to pave the way for Europe-wide application of ATES, through the realization and monitoring of six ATES pilot plants across five different EU countries. In a preceding paper, based on preliminary results of E-USE(aq), conclusions were already drawn, demonstrating how the barriers for this form of shallow geothermal energy can be overcome, and sometimes even leveraged as opportunities. Based on final pilot project results, key economic and environmental outcomes are now presented. This paper starts with the analysis of specific technological barriers: unfamiliarity with the subsurface, presumed limited compatibility with existing energy provision systems (especially district heating), energy imbalances and groundwater contamination. The paper then shows how these barriers have been tackled, using improved site investigation and monitoring technologies to map heterogeneous subsoils. In this way ATES can cost-efficiently be included in smart grids and combined with other sources of renewable (especially solar) energy, while at the same time achieving groundwater remediation. A comparative assessment of economic and environmental impacts of the pilots is included, to demonstrate the sustainability of ATES system with different renewables and renewable-based technologies. The paper concludes with an assessment of the market application potential of ATES, including in areas with water scarcity, and a review of climate beneficial impact.

Original languageEnglish
Article number136142
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2020


  • Aquifer thermal energy storage
  • District heating and cooling
  • Geothermal energy
  • Heating and cooling
  • Photovoltaic-thermal module
  • Pilot plant
  • Remediation
  • Technological innovation
  • Water scarcity


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