Jointly meeting global challenges Annual report 2012


Research prepares municipalities for new ground

22 November 2012Research

In 2013 closed-loop ground source heat pump systems will require registration and approval. This means that municipalities and provinces will have to develop a regulatory and consent framework. A consortium of 20 parties commissioned a research project aiming at delineating the opportunities and risks of closed-loop ground source heat pump systems. What contributions do such systems make in terms of energy-savings, CO2 reduction and output? And what risks are other users of the underground – such as water companies – exposed to, for instance, when aquitards are perforated?


Installation of a closed-loop ground source heat pump system (foto IF Technology BV)

Closed-loop ground source heat pump systems involve the use of a plastic pipe in the ground, which is filled with a water and often an anti-freeze fluid (glycol) to transfer geothermal heat. Over the past 20 years, the development and application of these systems has grown significantly. In 2011, about 40,000 loops were estimated to be installed in the ground in the Netherlands, and this number is expected to grow to about 80,000 in 2020. As of 1 July 2013, new legislation will become effective, bringing with it a registration and/or permit requirement. From that moment on, closed-loop systems will have to satisfy technical and energy requirements aimed at protecting aquifers, and at ensuring that the expected system performance – and thus targeted CO2 reduction – can actually be achieved.

Research objectives

To make sure that the municipalities are well prepared for the new measures, KWR, IF Technology BV and Groenholland BV begin research – commissioned by the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, IPO, municipalities and the Dutch water companies – into the opportunities that the systems present (growth market, contribution to European sustainability objectives), the risks for the underground (use of cooling agents, perforation of aquitards) and the thermal effects related to the output. Lastly, the impact that closed-loop geothermal energy systems can have on aquifer thermal energy storage systems (ATES) in the vicinity – and vice-versa – will be modelled.

© 2018 KWR Watercycle Research Institute

Also see
Beste paper congres 'Water, Climate and Energy' 18 May 2012 Best paper at congress on Water, Climate and Energy WKO 22 April 2012 The impact of ATES on groundwater quality
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02 September 2012 Gertjan Medema is awarded as IWA Fellow