In a network within the ‘Central Innovation Programme for SME’ led by geologists from FAU, scientists and representatives of SMEs are investigating the potential of a new form of geothermal energy: shallow geothermal systems and low-temperature district heating networks. The network partners have already completed projects successfully during the first phase. International partners are set to join the network and participate in the second stage of the project, which is already underway.
The aim of the ‘Shallow geothermal systems and low-temperature district heating 4.0’ network which is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as part of the ‘Central Innovation Programme for SME’ initiative is to integrate innovative products throughout the value chain into new concepts for residential areas. Since the network was launched the German partners – three research institutions, 12 SMEs and four major energy suppliers – have already completed several projects including the largest low-temperature district heating network in Germany for sustainable energy supply in Bad Nauheim with double layers of surface collectors covering an area of 11,200 m².
In the second phase of the project which has just started, the network has expanded to include international partners. Austria has used geothermal energy for over 40 years and is home to pioneering research on setting up geothermal district heating networks and significant expertise in operating and manufacturing geothermal and other types of heat pumps. The network is set to benefit from this expertise in geothermal systems and low-temperature district heating in existing urban residential buildings.
The six Austrian companies involved in the project will be coordinated by the Alpine Building Centre at FH Salzburg GmbH. Both the Alpine Building Centre and Smart Building at the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences focus on applied transdisciplinary research, transferring scientific research findings to industry and sharing research and development projects between science and industry. ‘Working with our Austrian partners will help to further boost the innovative strength of our network’. As a consortium with international partnerships, we will be in an excellent position to find cost-efficient and sustainable solutions for all aspects of shallow geothermal systems and low-temperature district heating,’ says Moritz Faude from Geozentrum Nordbayern at FAU.
Directly under the surface
In shallow geothermal systems, collectors are installed at a maximum of five metres below the ground. The heat transfer fluid is transported to the individual houses via a ground loop. The base temperature reached in the pipelines is heated to the target temperature by heat pumps in the buildings. One geothermal system can supply up to 150 households, allowing home owners to share network synergies.