Aquathermal energy – an underexploited energy resource
Aquathermal energy is a technology that harnesses thermal energy from various water sources, including surface water, drinking water, and wastewater, through pump systems. The temperature differences in the water can be used to heat or cool buildings, either those connected to existing district heating and cooling networks, or stand-alone household or neighborhood systems.
While, a few district heating and cooling-linked systems have been developed in Stockholm and Gothenburg, the technology has yet to gain traction in Sweden, despite the abundance of water sources and well-developed district heating networks in urban areas around the country.
– Our ambition is to explore where additional aquathermal system developments can be implemented in Sweden, says Barry Ness, Senior Lecturer at LUCSUS, and one of the project participants.
Collaboration across sectors to promote a sustainable energy transition
The WaterWarmth project unites researchers from LUCSUS with a diverse team of partners, including regional and local government bodies, academia, private companies, and interest organizations. Together, they will not only develop aquathermal system pilot projects but also study the development processes surrounding them.
The involved LUCSUS researchers, Barry Ness, Sara Brogaard, and Henner Busch will participate in several project work packages; however, their main participation will be collaborating with Delft University in the Netherlands on the topic of energy governance to promote the transition to greater aquathermal energy use in the North Sea Region. Together with the researchers from Delft University, they will collaborate to devise an analytical framework to examine largely bottom-up aquathermal system development processes, assess several existing or planned cases around the North Sea Region, as well as to coordinate and examine future visions of aquathermal energy development in the EU for coming decades.
– We are excited to collaborate with other researchers and proponents of aquathermal energy system development around the North Sea Region to both promote and understand the technology’s possibilities, says Barry Ness.
The project aims to contribute to a sustainable energy transition and the development of aquathermal energy systems in the North Sea Region, and provide a deeper understanding of the economic, social and environmental consequences of aquathermal energy development, and a fuller comprehension of the governance measures needed to stimulate a sustainable energy transition in the EU.
Sara Brogaard, Senior Lecturer at LUCSUS, also emphasized the project's broader impact.
– We also hope that the project will create opportunities to ensure that issues of energy access and justice are tangibly integrated into planning and development processes in the EU.