Discovering giant underground water pools as the sustainable batteries of the future can change the way homes are heated and cooled. These pools have layers which are saturated with water and can be a source of groundwater for wells and springs.
These giant underground water pools are called aquifers. Aquifers are underground layers of porous rock, gravel, sand, or soil that hold water and allow it to move through them.
Underground aquifers can play a crucial role in reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and supporting the growth of renewable energy sources. One promising technology that takes advantage of these aquifers is called aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES). This process involves using the thermal energy stored in water to heat and cool homes, buildings, and other structures.
ATES technology works by pumping warm water from an underground aquifer through a well during the winter months. This warm water is then used to heat nearby homes and buildings.
During the summer months, when cooling is needed, a separate pump is used to extract the same water from the aquifer and cool the surrounding structures.
This process of extracting and returning water to the same aquifer creates a closed-loop system, making it a sustainable and environmentally friendly solution for heating and cooling.
For the study, the researchers created a fictional neighborhood of about 60 residences that were connected to a grid that could deliver various types of energy and storage, modeling a scenario around the deployment of ATES in a neighborhood in Chicago.
To estimate how much heating and cooling these households will require in the future and to test the grid’s resilience in the event of a calamity, they then ran that model through numerous climatic scenarios.
Discovering the giant underground water pools as the sustainable batteries of the future can be a great way to reduce the use of fossil fuels for energy by up to 40%, which is a big deal. It can also make the power grid stronger during hot weather.
Unlike air conditioners, which need a lot of energy to cool things down, ATES just needs enough energy to move water around. But ATES isn’t perfect. It only works in places where certain types of underground water sources make it easier to move the water. And it can be up to 20% more expensive than other ways of storing energy.
Source: ATES Smart Grids