Thermal management of subsurface resources

The AUG develops scientific basics and application-oriented management tools for the thermal utilization of the subsurface. The aim is to coordinate the different thermal utilization strategies with the long-term goals of sustainable use of underground resources.

Newly developed spatially and temporally high-resolution monitoring systems as well as flow and heat transport models make it possible to differentiate the various natural and anthropogenic influencing factors and their interaction in the subsurface. Initial research by the AUG shows that elevated temperatures observed in urban aquifers are mainly due to local and regional anthropogenic factors, while climate change plays only a secondary role.

Even if the environmental benefit of geothermal probes for heat recovery (shallow geothermal <300 m) with respect to a reduction of CO2 emissions is undisputed, a danger to the environment, in particular of groundwater, may arise during construction and operation. To assess the location criteria of such facilities management tools are developed, which allow a coherent interpretation of spatial planning and hydrological-hydrogeological information.

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Upper left: Location of urban groundwater bodies investigated in Basel, Switzerland. Left: Mean simulated groundwater temperatures and hydrogeological regime for the years 2010 to 2015. Right: Heat-demand for the year 2010; green-blue colors represent unsealed surfaces (Epting J, Mueller MH, Genske D, Huggenberger P (2018) Relating groundwater heat-potential to city-scale heat-demand: A theoretical consideration for urban groundwater resource management, Applied Energy 228; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2018.06.154).