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Underground thermal energy storage

Mott MacDonald is a world-leading expert in underground thermal energy storage (UTES). This cost-effective technology is at the cutting edge of renewable energy systems and has the capacity to work at a single-building or city-district scale.

The ability to capture excess heat energy and cooling from the summer and winter seasons offers customers a highly cost-effective way to drive down carbon emissions and energy needs throughout the life cycle of a project.

UTES utilises inter-seasonal heat storage. The ability to capture excess heat energy in summer to provide heating in winter and to capture the cold from winter to supply cooling in summer offers customers a highly cost-effective way to drive down carbon emissions and energy needs throughout the life cycle of a project.

Buildings with a net annual cooling demand can act as a heat source for existing buildings with a net annual heat demand. Heat from passive solar gain and human activity, or waste heat from commercial activity can be collected and stored using aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES) – the most efficient form of UTES.

Our knowledge of ATES and low energy, low carbon design has been used to deliver an extension and refurbishment at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, UK that meets all of its heating and cooling needs using thermal energy kept underground. The UK’s first refurbishment project using ATES, it will deliver long-term cost savings while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The technology uses two boreholes drilled into the aquifer. During summer, groundwater is extracted via one borehole to provide cooling, while unwanted heat is pumped into the aquifer via the second borehole. In winter the flows are reversed, extracting warmer water to provide heating.

Our specialists are involved with the design of further applications around London. Many other cities are located above aquifers that can be utilised for ATES and managed as part of a low carbon city. Where suitable aquifers are not present, close loop boreholes can be used.

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