Lessons from fourteen aquathermal energy projects

Published: 27 November 2020

Aquathermal energy is not yet available on a large scale but it has a future as a sustainable method for domestic heating, is the conclusion from a STOWA study. The fourteen practical examples from the study identify what needs to be taken into consideration terms of the technology and the organisation of aquathermal-energy projects. Experience with projects in place can help to accelerate successful application.

Building blocks for the social integration of collective heating systems

The results of the study serve as the building blocks for further research in WarmingUP, which brings together 34 parties to work on applicable knowledge for sustainable, collective heating systems. Gerald Jan Ellen, an expert in governance and spatial planning with Deltares, was a member of the study’s supervisory group. Ellen: “We will use the results in WarmingUP to analyse the different forms of organisation and collaboration for aquathermal energy and establish a basis for the development of design principles for governance. We transform the design principles into concrete steps that can be taken by bodies engaged in initiatives such as municipal authorities, civil society and grass-roots collectives. We help to structure their organisation and approach to collaboration in new collective heating initiatives.”  In this way, collective heating systems will not only be technically reliable and affordable but also socially acceptable.

Aquathermal energy as a reliable and user-friendly alternative

The main conclusion from the study: aquathermal energy has proven to be technically reliable and user-friendly. A project always has to be tailored to the specific circumstances such as the location and the heating demand. It requires working together with numerous organisations, local and otherwise. Every project has to consider whether to invest in material with a longer life expectancy or to assume that extra maintenance will be required along the way. Installations can, for example, be vulnerable to polluted water and that issue can be tackled by using better, but more expensive, materials. Like titanium instead of stainless steel. It is also advisable to have a design that takes into account the possibility of additional connections that allow the source of aquathermal energy to be used optimally.

The study draws these (and more) conclusions on the basis of fourteen practical examples. The researchers conducted interviews with water management authorities, operators and users. The examples range from a single house to large offices and a district with 1,600 homes.

Report is available in Dutch only.

Water Management and Regional Energy Strategies

The report was produced under the auspices of WARES, the research programme for WAter management and Regional Energy Strategies of STOWA and the Dutch Union of Water Authorities, which is partly funded by the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations.