Is the use of thermal storage in the station area around Utrecht Central more sustainable than residual heat? This is what Dion Nieuwenhuize studied in his thesis.
"I found energy very interesting, so I wanted to base my thesis on it. Then I heard about the functioning and potential of thermal storage. I'm not technical enough to be able to do modelling, so I wanted to bridge the gap between the technical and social side. I have used the concept ‘regional ecological footprint' to communicate the difference in sustainability in this way for people. The smaller the footprint, the more sustainable the studied technology is."
The ecological footprint of residual heat appeared to be similar to that of thermal storage. "But that's not the whole story. Thermal storage has a greater sustainability potential than residual heat. Thermal storage runs on electricity, which can be generated in a sustainable manner. Residual heat is however still dependent on gas."
Geo-thermal heat is poorly documented, therefore Dion has interviewed many people to gather sufficient information and to make calculations. "That was very motivating: it brings the practice suddenly much closer!"
Dion has done the Bachelor Social Environment in Utrecht. "Social Environment was very focused on policy and decision making. I missed the underlying calculations and the technical aspects of sustainable solutions for the urban environment. So I went for my master to Wageningen. "Working for six months on one topic - your thesis - is long. "During the day I was working behind the computer at the department of the university, so the breaks were very important! Luckily there were two good friends in the department, so we motivated each other to start early. I also found it very interesting to hear what the latest developments were in the department, even during the coffee break. You suddenly get a much better relationship with teachers. Then you suddenly sit with your teacher to 3 hours at night in a bar! "
Source: Nieuwenhuize, D. (2011), Master thesis “Aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES) in urban areas. A way to reduce the Regional Ecological Footprint?”