Webinformation Systems for Shallow Geothermal Energy – an Example from Austria



Key Words:

geothermal energy, renewable energy, groundwater, hydrogeology, borehole heat exchanger, groundwater heat exchanger, web information systems


Stanford Geothermal Workshop




Low Temperature



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765 KB

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Inquiries on possibilities for switching to renewable energy resource are growing in the light of raising gas prices and increasing awareness of the climate crises. Requests for renewable heating and cooling sources have risen very strongly in the last year. This calls for a better display of resources to raise awareness of niche technologies, such as shallow geothermal energy (SGE), for a sustainable use of the available resources and for a reduction of dependency on energy imports. The project “Spatial Energy Planning for Heat Transition” (GEL-SEP), with a project lifetime from June 2018 to May 2021, as part of the Austrian research initiative Green Energy Lab embarked on it by providing a sound basis for the integration of heat in private and public planning processes and for the implementation of the energy infrastructure of the future together with energy providers. Three federal states of Austria (Vienna, Styria, and Salzburg), their capital cities and pilot-municipalities worked together to provide information necessary for the implementation of heat into spatial planning – as role model for Austria and other countries. The GIS-based web-tool ‘Heat-Atlas’, which is still under construction, will provide data on available, local energy sources in a harmonized way and serve as information platform for project developers and regional planning for each state. Goal of this tool is to foster the use of all available sustainable energy resources and infrastructures to their full extent. The system of the information platform is scalable and is aimed to be expanded to other regions of Austria on interest. SGE is one source covered in the GEL-SEP Heat-Atlas and covers horizontal - (hCLS: shallow heat collector), vertical closed loop (vCLS: borehole heat exchanger) as well as open loop systems (OLS: groundwater heat exchanger). The Geological Survey of Austria developed methods to provide a broad compilation of resource and limitation of use data sets. New methods to estimate capacity and energy content combine location-specific geological and hydrogeological parameters such as thermal conductivity, underground temperature, and groundwater availability with system-specific parameters such as mode of operation, operational hours, geometry, and threshold values demanded by official regulations. So-called traffic light maps combine all possible limitations of SGE use. All data sets together give an area-wide overview about where the use of SGE is possible and to what extent. They also serve as input for location specific queries, which consider parameters such as heating and cooling demand, operational hours, and size of the property. This enables the estimation of the overall energy resources and the cover ratio of the property. An automatically generated report will make all this sit-specific information available to the users. The content on SGE of the statewide GEL-SEP Heat-Atlas will also be transferred into a nation-wide Geothermal-Atlas. The Geological Survey of Austria currently establishes a Geothermal-Atlas, which will serve as central point of information for the use of geothermal energy in Austria. The Geothermal-Atlas starts with the city of Vienna, with the content available in 2023.

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