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M. Philippe (A,C), D. Marchio (B), S. Hagspiel (B), P. Riederer (C), V. Partenay (C,A)

Corresponding author:

(A) BRGM Geosciences for a sustainable Earth

3 avenue Claude Guillemin
BP 36009

(B) Ecole des Mines de Paris

Center for Energy and Processes
60 boulevard Saint Michel
75272 PARIS CEDEX 06

(C) CSTB Centre Scientifique et Technique du Btiment

Department of Energy, Health and Environment / Renewable energy group
290 route des Lucioles


About 30 different underground thermal energy storage projects around the world have been
compared with the aim to determine the best practices and the applicability in a French
The following information has been gathered and analyzed:
- design of the storage
- sizing of equipments
- global costs, energy performance and CO2 emissions
Additionally to an inventory of referenced projects, enquiries have been carried out with
stakeholders, designers or operators.
The results of these enquiries are classified and analyzed by categories:
- storage types: ATES or BTES
- production: with or without auxiliary heating
- building type: residential, office buildings
- storage recharge: solar active recharge or use of reversible systems for heating and
By analyzing these design and operation data, some trends have been obtained allowing to
quickly estimate the design of UTES systems by this empirical approach.

In France, heating and cooling of buildings represent about 34 % of the final energy
consumption and 18.5 % of the CO2 emissions. To satisfy these energy requirements with an
acceptable efficiency while considering that the building can alternatively (or simultaneously
for some types of buildings) consume or produce heat, one solution is to store the heat in the
underground. In this underground storage thermal losses are minimized since the temperature
level of the storage volume is close to that of the surrounding ground and thanks to the
constant temperature of the soil during the year below a depth of about 10 m.
The French GEOBAT consortium (CSTB, BRGM, CEP, LOCIE) is carrying out a project on
the use of underground thermal energy storage (UTES) for heating and cooling of buildings in
France. Several projects had been carried out in France until the early 80s but this research
had not been continued after post oil crisis. In other European and North American countries
UTES systems have still been installed and a high level in their design and operation has been
reached. The GEOBAT project aims in facilitating the introduction of UTES in France. This
goal shall be reached with a global approach analyzing this technology from technical,
economical, regulatory and practical points of view and suggesting solutions that are
appropriated to the French specificities. The project is divided into four main parts:
benchmarking of existing UTES systems, with a main focus on BTES,
detailed analysis of these systems,
estimation of the potential in France,
proposal of appropriated solutions for French typical buildings.
In order to obtain technical and economical data of different UTES projects around the world,
enquiry templates have been prepared and sent to the designers of the energy systems.
The main analysis of this paper will be the comparison between the data of some
representative borehole thermal energy storage (BTES) projects around the world. A
methodology to analyze the data and to check the coherency of the values is developed.
Comparisons of the data are then made in particular concerning sizing, energy performance
and economical criteria of the different projects. With these enquiry data, trends are obtained
in order to quickly size a storage volume or the necessary power of the heating systems for
typical buildings.


Detailed enquiry templates have been prepared requiring data related to the geology of the
ground storage, heat pump characteristics, ground heat exchanger geometry as well as
operation and investments costs of the plant. Before inquiry, data have been collected through
papers and publications to facilitate the answer.
An overview of the key figures of the different projects is presented in Table 1. The projects
are classified in a table following these categories:
- with auxiliary heating or cooling systems and solar collectors (green)
- with auxiliary heating or cooling systems and without solar collectors (orange)
- with solar collectors and without auxiliary heating or cooling systems (yellow)
- without solar collectors and without auxiliary heating or cooling systems (blue)
In each category, the projects are also split by a bold line among the type of building (office
or residential).
Heated floor Refrigerating power Number of Active length of
N= Location Country Type of building Heating power (kW)
area (m) (kW) BHE the BHE (m)
1 Langen Germany Office 44500 330 340 154 70
2 Lucerne Switzerland Office 20000 450 700 49 160
3 Neckarsulm Germany District heating 25000 500 528 30
4 Crailsheim Germany District heating 40000 530 80 49
5 Truro Canada Prison 3837 211 24 63
6 Lugano Switzerland Single family house 250 14 no cooling 3 80
7 Sopot Poland Hospital 4223 80 50
(300 with the boiler)
8 Mnster Germany Office 14000 529 379 95 100
9 Ulm Germany Office 6911 120 40 99
10 Athens Greece Office 6000 526 461 13 90
11 Lincoln USA School 6410 120 73
(1081 with the boiler)
12 Melle Belgium Office 20700 (1200 with the 90 120
(200 with the boiler)
refrigerating machine)
13 Attenkirchen Germany District heating 6075 90 30
14 Aachen Germany Office 2072 56 28 45
15 Donaueschingen Germany Office 3500 90 452 56 95
16 Schffengrund Germany Office 385 22 no cooling 8 50
17 Stuttgart Germany Office 2400 67 18 55
18 Markham Canada School 16822 1442 360 61
19 Pylaia Greece Town Hall 2500 265 168 21 80
20 Wollerau Switzerland Office 3000 190 210 32 135
21 Stadl Paura Austria Office 1540 43 8 100
22 Onamia USA School 7246 679 560 15,2
23 Vestal USA Office 743 84,4 16 76,2
24 York County USA Office 2480 351,7 96 50
25 Oslo Norway Office, hotel 180000 6000 9500 180 200
26 Setubal Portugal University 220 15 12 5 80
27 Sabadell Spain Office 1546 165 165 14
28 Montreal Canada Store 4180 12 175
29 Lancaster USA Restaurant 1394 90 6 153
30 Wysox USA Hotel 3623 341,1 30 91,4

Table 1 : Extract of enquiry results of 30 projects

The coherency of the different data has been checked through typical values of sizing.

Energy requirements
The heat and cooling demands have been compared against each other, the values of the
different projects are plotted in Figure 1.
Energy [kWh/m]





1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Installation number

Figure 1 : Energy demands for the different projects

These values are typical for buildings: between 20 and 280 kWh/m for heating and between
10 and 100 kWh/m for cooling. Values lower than 50 kWh/m for heating represent new
buildings with high energy standards.
For some installations, the energy needs are unknown or have not been obtained within the
inquiry. In that case, a rough estimation is proposed to complete the data base and to expand
the comparison panel. Assuming the nominal heating power equal to the maximal thermal
losses, it is proposed to evaluate the missing heating demands using the degree days method :
- calculation of the heat loss coefficient Uloss (in W/mK):
U loss =
( Tset Tbasis )S
with: S: heated area [m]
Tset : indoor setpoint temperature (18 C)
Tbasis: outdoor design temperature, given in tables of the ASHRAE Handbook
[1] for each town [C]
- calculation of the annual thermal losses (in Wh/m):
E heating = 24 DD a U loss
with: DDa : the annual degree days in Tnh basis, given by an online software
provided by Weather Underground [2].
Tnh: maximum external temperature for heating (assumed to be 12 C for office
buildings and 16 C for residential applications)

The data base has been updated using these calculations. Figure 2 shows the completed energy
demands for the different installations. The evaluated values are coherent with the given
Energy [kWh/m]





1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Installation number

Figure 2 : Energy demands for the different projects after completion by the degree days method

The heating demands of the project number 28 are not calculated because the nominal heating
power of this building is unknown.

Sizing of the borehole heat exchangers

The specific power of the borehole heat exchangers (in W/m) of all projects is plotted in
Figure 3. It is obtained from the nominal power at the evaporator side of the heat pump, equal
to Pground = Pheating (with Pground on the evaporator side and Pheating on the condenser
side in case of space heating). This power is divided by the total length of borehole.
Specific power (W/m)







1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Installation number

Figure 3 : Specific power of the borehole heat exchangers

These values can be compared with the values of the German guideline VDI 4640 [3]. This
guideline, developed for residential applications with single boreholes, gives values between
20 and 100 W/m depending on the thermal conductivity of the soil and the operation time of
the heat pump. The diversity of the values is in particular due to the diversity of climates with
average outdoor temperature and then very different underground temperatures.

Definition of harmonised system layouts

The different BTES projets are classified in 4 categories depending on the conception of the
system (Recharge of the BTES storage by solar collectors, use of auxiliary heating systems or
not), as shown in Table 1 by the different colors. For each type of project, a simplified layout
is drawn (from a real and representative plant) to illustrate the operation of the system.

Project n=2: Crailsheim Project n=8: Mnster

Project n=13: Attenkirchen Project n=20: Pylaia

Figure 4 : Diagrams of installations of each category (with solar collectors or not, with auxiliary
heating/cooling system or not)

As can be seen in the examples, there is not a general rule for system conception with
borehole thermal energy storage. Different combinations are possible and the choice of the
configuration depends on several parameters such as building type, geology of the soil, cost
optimization, CO2 content in the electrical energy
With the data obtained through the enquiries, some values are compared and trends are
Performances of the heating and cooling systems
In Figure 5, the annual coefficients of performance in heating and cooling mode are plotted
(only for the projects where these figures were given).
Annual COP
6 Cooling

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Installation number

Figure 5 : Annual coefficients of performance of the different installations

The values of annual coefficients of performance for heating and cooling are quite good
(about 4 for the majority of the projects). Some performances (not represented in Figure 5) are
better in cooling mode thanks to the operation of the majority of these systems in direct
ground cooling (8 installations: 1, 5, 9, 12, 14, 15, 17, 21). The performances of these systems
are not plotted in Figure 6 because the annual electrical consumptions of the feed pumps are
unknown and are assumed to influence significantly the COP.

Sizing of a borefield (total length of the heat exchangers)

In Figure 6, the nominal heating or cooling power (the maximum figure of both has been
chosen for the plot, depending mainly on building type and climate) is plotted with the
corresponding total length of the heat exchangers for the installations of power lower than
1 MW.
Power (kW)
Max(Heating Power, Cooling Power) (kW)




0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 12000 14000 16000
Total length (m)

Figure 6 : Maximum power (for heating or cooling) as function of the total length of boreholes
The linear regression line in Figure 6 allows to evaluate the sizing of a BTES and to estimate
its costs (which depend strongly on the total length of boreholes). The following equation is
given to evaluate the total length of boreholes compatible with Figure 3:
Pmax [W ] = 54.7 Ltotal [m]
This rule gives not a design value but a first idea of the total length of boreholes (the next step
is to define the distance between boreholes and thus the storage volume) which can help the
designer to evaluate the interest of a such BTES project considering the necessary heating or
cooling power. Using the simple ratio 70 /m (average value in France), it is possible to have
an idea of the investment.


This first part of GEOBAT project provided some elements of comparison between BTES
projects. Four different typical schemes have been identified, the average coefficient of
performance of the projects is around 4 and an estimated value of about 55 W/m has been
obtained for sizing (as a starting point for further considerations). The main difficulty related
to the comparison of the different projects is due to the diversity of the given information. It
could be of common interest for the research community to agree on a standardized
information template to be filled in for every European BTES projects with the most
important data of the installations. Such an enquiry template is proposed in appendix A, it
concerns general data, heating system, underground storage and properties of the soil.

Appendix A: Enquiry template for BTES projects

Type of building
General Data
Heated floor area
Energy demands (for heating and cooling)
Heating nominal power
Cooling nominal power
Part of auxiliary heating or cooling systems
Heating/cooling system
Nominal coefficients of performance (COP)
Nominal Energy efficiency ratio (EER)
Seasonal performance factor (SPF) for heating and cooling
Number and type of boreholes
Length of each borehole
Spacing between the boreholes
Geometry of the storage (square, rectangle, circle)
Underground storage
Temperature of storage (at the center of the storage volume,
at the end of the storage period each year)
Annual stored energy
Annual draw-off energy
Thermal conductivity
Properties of the soil
Thermal capacity

Acknowledgments: The authors want to thank French Agency for Energy and Environment
(ADEME) for financial support of this study.
[1] ASHRAE Handbook: Fundamentals, 1997

[2] Internet website of Weather Underground:

[3] Verein Deutscher Ingenieure: Guideline VDI 4640 Thermal Use of the Underground, September 2001

[4] Operating Experiences with Commercial Ground-Source Heat Pump Systems, ASHRAE, 1998

[5] Rafrachissement par geocooling: Bases pour un manuel de dimensionnement, Pierre Hollmuller, Bernard
Lachal et Daniel Pahud, Universit de Genve, 2005.

[6] Internet website of the european project Groundreach :

[7] Monitoring and Data Analysis of two Low Energy Office Building with a Thermo-Active Building System
(TABS), D. Kalz, J. Pfafferott and S. Herkel, 4th European Conference on Energy Performance & Indoor Climate
in Buildings, Lyon, 2006.

[8] Solar district heating with seasonal storage in Attenkirchen, M. Reuss, W. Beuth, M. Schmidt, W.
Schoelkopf, ECOSTOCK Conference, 2006.

[9] Der Erdsonden-Wrmespeicher in Crailsheim, D. Bauer, W. Heidemann, H. Mller-Steinhagen, 17.

Symposium Thermische Solarenergie, Kloster Banz, Bad Staffelstein, 2007

[10] Das Low Energy Office der Deutschen Flugsicherung in Langen mit geothermischer Wrme/Klte-
Speicherung, E. Mands, B. Sanner, M. Sauer und W. Seidinger, UbeG.

[11] Monitoring Results and Operational Experiences for a Central Solar District Heating System with Borehole
Thermal Energy Store in Neckarsulm, J. Nussbicker, W. Heidemann, H. Mller-Steinhagen, ECOSTOCK
Conference, 2006.

[12] Bau und Betrieb des Erdsonden-Wrmespeichers in Neckarsulm-Amorbach, J. Nussbicker, D. Mangold, W.

Heidemann, H. Mller-Steinhagen, 2004.

[13] Ground Heat Exchanger of Pylaia - Energy Evaluation after the First Year of Operation, N. Kyriakis, A.
Michopoulos, K. Pattas, 2002.

[14] Etude pilote pour le stockage diffusif des btiments du centre D4 de la suva a Root (Lucerne) Analyse de
2 tests de rponse gothermique et intgration du stockage dans le systme, Programme Stockage de chaleur, D.
Pahud, 2001.