Renewable energy from water and subsoil

Deltares helps developers, builders and managers of renewable energy installations to optimise efficiency. On the basis of applied research, we develop innovative technologies in the following areas:

  • thermal energy systems (heat and cold storage);
  • mechanical energy (tidal power plants).

These technologies help to design, manage and maintain these installations as efficiently as possible.

Making use of the potential of water, the subsurface and infrastructure in the energy transition.

Smart and economical management

Installations that use ground-source heat (geothermal and thermal energy systems) regulate the climate in buildings, usually working on the basis of pre-programmed fluctuations in the temperature in the building. A new, innovative, anticipatory method takes external factors such as weather forecasts into account. If the sun is expected to shine on a building throughout the day, that will affect the heating, or cooling, requirements. The system can respond accordingly at the start of the day. Regulating the installation in this way leads to a more efficient use of natural sources, and makes climate regulation more economical. Regulation requires a tailored approach that depends on the available renewable sources. This innovation is meant for large projects involving surface areas of at least 100,000 m2. However, the knowledge generated by the research can also be used on smaller scales.

Optimising maintenance

Installations in place can be monitored using measurements underground. Fibre-optic cables can be used, for example, to provide detailed temperature measurements, and also to see how fast groundwater flows are, or whether filters are getting clogged up, and which parts of the system are being used most intensively. That information can be used by managers to fine-tune their maintenance plans for underground installations. Deltares generally develops these innovative measurement techniques in consortiums with commercial parties.

Validated computing models for tidal power

Another way of generating sustainable energy is to use the power of the tides. This can vary from installing turbines in existing barriers to the construction of dedicated lagoons. Deltares is the only place in the world with validated computer models that can be used to assess the design of tidal power installations. Using things like 3D modelling, we can establish a detailed picture of the interaction between an installation and the immediate surroundings. The aim is to keep energy losses to a minimum. Designers can also draw on models that make calculations for an installation in a broader context:

  • Delft3D for large-scale effects;
  • WANDA (1D) for optimising and assessing regulation systems.

This makes it possible to produce predictions covering a period of several years and to calculate the effects of different tidal ranges. The models are now primarily used during the design process. In the longer term, it will also be possible to use the 1D models to optimise the regulation of installations in the operational phase.