Wijbrand Sommer receives his doctorate: it is possible to make more intensive use of aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES)

Published: 9 June 2015

Using new monitoring technologies and planning for large-scale systems, it is possible to make more intensive use of the underground and to boost energy storage by 30-40%. This is the conclusion in the doctorate study ‘Modelling and monitoring of Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage: Impacts of heterogeneity, thermal interference and bioremediation’ that Wijbrand Sommer conducted at Deltares. On Thursday, 4 June 2015, Wijbrand Sommer was awarded his doctorate at Wageningen University for his study looking at the storage of thermal energy in the subsurface, a technology known as Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage (ATES).

aanleg monitoring, onderzoek Wijbrand Sommer

Negative thermal interference permissible

In his doctorate dissertation, he studied underground heat transport in ATES and the associated effects on the performance of thermal energy storage systems. In the past, design rules were applied to prevent negative interference. However, this reduces the number of ATES systems that can be installed in a particular area. As a result, this doctorate study looked at the level of thermal interference that is acceptable from the economic and environmental points of view for different zonation patterns and well-to-well distances. The geohydrological conditions in Amsterdam were used as a case study. This method shows that it helps to allow a limited amount of thermal interference. Doing so makes it possible to use 30-40 % more energy than when negative thermal interference is avoided.

ATES on the rise

Studying ATES rather than traditional heating and cooling installations is useful because it may lead to reductions in the use of primary energy and the associated carbon emissions. In addition, ATES could save on the costs of heating and cooling. There are more than 3000 active systems in the Netherlands at the moment, and the number of systems is increasing rapidly in urban areas in particular. To make this increase possible, it is necessary to make better measurements and predictions of how heat spreads in the soil so that we understand better how systems affect each other. This doctorate dissertation makes a significant contribution to this field.


For more detailed information about this study, send an e-mail to Wijbrand Sommer