All owners and users of homes and other buildings in our country must have access to 100% sustainable heat by latest 2050; reliably and affordably. That is the goal ECN part of TNO has in mind. A combination of geothermal energy, residual heat, heat storage and intelligent heat networks offers opportunities to replace natural gas as a heat source for households and businesses.
The production of sustainable geothermal heat in our country could grow from 3 petajoules (PJ) now, to 50 PJ per year in 2030 and even 200 PJ in 2050. To achieve this, ECN part of TNO is working on a new approach to accelerate the development of geothermal energy. It focuses on higher production and lower risks, and therefore a better business case for geothermal projects.
Intelligent heat networks
However, even with 200 PJ in 2050, geothermal energy covers 'only' one third of the total heat demand in the urban environment. Other solutions are therefore needed, such as 100% sustainable 'all-electric' homes or 'green gas' and hybrid heat supply, combining sustainable electricity with heat sources. But other sources are also needed, such as waste heat from industry and data centres, aquathermal energy and solar heat. This requires a new generation of heat networks. With the CHESS tool, engineering firms can design these heat networks more acutely, with a better balance between supply and demand for heat from a multitude of sources. This can increase the durability of heat supply and reduce the cost of heat networks. Urban heating networks now operate as one-way traffic from one high temperature source of a gas or waste plant to all end-users. Together with partners, ECN part of TNO is developing new concept designs for intelligent networks in which different types of sources and users are connected in intelligent ways.
Smart matching of supply and demand
TNO has developed instruments such as PowerMatcher and HeatMatcher, innovative control systems to optimally match the supply and demand of renewable energy. For example, peaks in use can be smoothed out and costs reduced. HeatMatcher has been shown to work efficiently in buildings resulting in 20% lower energy consumption. Now ECN part of TNO will make HeatMatcher suitable for heat networks. The use of storage in combination with geothermal energy also leads to a better match between supply and demand, which means that a much higher efficiency can be achieved from heat production.
Underground Heat storage
Geothermal energy will soon form an important part of a mix of energy sources, replacing heating with natural gas. There is still a lot to gain here. There are less than twenty geothermal installations active in the Netherlands that produce approximately 3 PJ. Through intensive cooperation, this can grow to hundreds of 'doublets' and the amount of geothermal heat can grow to dozens of PJ. The new approach is also estimated to save as much as EUR 2 billion.
Through innovative techniques, efficiency and production can be increased by dozens of percent. Besides tapping many more geothermal springs, seasonal storage is a major challenge for the coming period. In European projects, among others, ECN part of TNO is working on large-scale underground heat storage at high temperatures.