The storage of heat in aquifers, also referred to as Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage (ATES), bears a high potential to bridge the seasonal gap between periods of highest thermal energy demand and supply. With storage temperatures higher than 50 °C, High-Temperature (HT) ATES is capable to facilitate the integration of (non-)renewable heat sources into complex energy systems. While the complexity of ATES technology is positively correlated to the required storage temperature, HT-ATES faces multidisciplinary challenges and risks impeding a rapid market uptake worldwide. Therefore, the aim of this study is to provide an overview and analysis of these risks of HT-ATES to facilitate global technology adoption. Risk are identified considering experiences of past HT-ATES projects and analyzed by ATES and geothermal energy experts. An online survey among 38 international experts revealed that technical risks are expected to be less critical than legal, social and organizational risks. This is confirmed by the lessons learned from past HT-ATES projects, where high heat recovery values were achieved, and technical feasibility was demonstrated. Although HT-ATES is less flexible than competing technologies such as pits or buffer tanks, the main problems encountered are attributed to a loss of the heat source and fluctuating or decreasing heating demands. Considering that a HT-ATES system has a lifetime of more than 30 years, it is crucial to develop energy concepts which take into account the conditions both for heat sources and heat sinks. Finally, a site-specific risk analysis for HT-ATES in the city of Hamburg revealed that some risks strongly depend on local boundary conditions. A project-specific risk management is therefore indispensable and should be addressed in future research and project developments.
- High-temperature aquifer thermal energy storage
- Risk analysis