ATES national tool

Haslam, Richard ORCID:; Raine, Robert; Boon, David; Staffell, Iain; Gonzalez Quiros, Andres; Christelis, Vasileios; Hough, Edward; Jackson, Matthew. 2023 ATES national tool. [Other] In: Energy Group: The 10th UK Geothermal Symposium, Geological Society London, 20-22 Nov 2023. (Unpublished)

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The UK has a vast, largely untapped, low-enthalpy geothermal potential in shallow aquifers. To date, there are over 3000 shallow schemes exploiting heat and cool stored in aquifer systems across the world, with the majority of these schemes installed and successfully operating in alluvial gravels in the Netherlands. A much smaller number of schemes are located in north-west Europe, Turkey, USA, Canada, China and Japan. There are only 11 Aquifer Thermal Energy schemes in the UK, although suitable geology to host schemes is not considered a barrier to wider adoption. The geology that is considered particularly suitable for ATES schemes includes both permeable Superficial Deposits (glacial and post-glacial), and importantly Bedrock Aquifers which typically have high groundwater storativity, transmissivity and production rates at levels required to support medium to large output ATES doublet systems. Here, we describe the first national-scale assessment of the potential thermal energy storage represented by bedrock aquifers in the UK (including England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales), assuming a nominal 0.5 MW doublet scheme with a maximum change in groundwater temperature of 10 degrees C resulting in a minimum required flowrate per well of at least 10 l/s. These conditions restricted the assessment to 6 Principal Aquifers including the Triassic and Permian sandstones, Permian Dolomites, the Inferior and Great Oolite groups, the Lower Greensand and the Chalk Group. Using a combination of surface and subsurface mapping, we provide an interactive GIS layer showing general information including the spatial distribution of suitable aquifers, and the number of aquifers that may be encountered to a depth of 400 m on a 1 km grid. We additionally map on published heat and cool densities for each unit area to illustrate the potential requirements across the UK. This assessment does not consider some parameters that are best considered at a local-scale such as variability in aquifer properties including groundwater chemistry, groundwater gradients, extraction and injection flow rates and thus storage capacities. The tool indicates that the UK has extensive spatial coverage of geology that is suitable for the development and utilisation of medium to large scale ATES systems. There is a strong juxtaposition between ATES suitable geological bedrock units and mapped heating and cooling density particularly across south-east, midlands, and north-west England, and parts of Northern Ireland; there are limited opportunities in Scotland. Overall, there is significant potential for the development of ATES within the UK to meet desired carbon reduction targets. This assessment only considers single medium to large ATES doublets and as such the required flow rates are achievable from the aquifer are the principal constraining factor. Engineering alternative systems with multiple doublets of lower output and requiring lower yield rates would allow a significantly greater proportion of the bedrock geology/areas of the country to support the deployment of ATES systems. There are many opportunities for open-loop ATES systems in locations close to areas of anticipated high demand, such as urban and industrial areas. Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage therefore represents an important thermal management opportunity for the UK that can be integrated into a portfolio of low-carbon energy technologies that will be required to support the stated net-zero ambitions at National, regional and local scales.

Item Type: Publication - Conference Item (Other)
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 29 Feb 2024 12:14 +0 (UTC)

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