Call for groundwater use to cut capital's building energy costs

22 April 2013

Sustain Worldwidevisit website


Call for groundwater use to cut capital's building energy costsA call for greater use of groundwater — a low carbon energy source — to be used to heat and cool London's new and existing buildings has been made by sustainability organisation Sustain Worldwide following research carried out at the University of Bath that suggests groundwater could reduce space heating and cooling costs in London's commercial and industrial sector by around four per cent.

Groundwater is a proven energy source utilised at the Zetter Hotel, Clerkenwell, Saddler’s Wells Theatre, the Royal Festival Hall, City Hall, and Kings Place. Leading consultant engineers who have designed heating and cooling systems utilising groundwater include Arup and Richard Rogers + Partners.

"London is a global leader and due to auspicious geological conditions there is an immense opportunity for the city to demonstrate genuine step change leadership for a low carbon economy by supporting our campaign," said Anwar Harland-Khan, CEO of Sustain Worldwide. “The research shows groundwater is feasible — there is an environmental case for its wider adoption. Now let's prove the wide scale business case to deliver a vital legacy that will benefit us now and generations to come."

Dr Mike Lawrence, Lecturer in Low Carbon Design, University of Bath, who researched the potential of groundwater as an energy source, said: "We can compare the potential energy of 499GWh in London's groundwater with the total energy consumption of Greater London's commercial and industrial sector of 50,157GWh in 2009. Thus the energy potential in London's groundwater could reduce that sector's energy consumption by around one per cent."

Potential of London's aquifer

And Giuseppe Medeghini, head of design at Studio Planning, a design partner of climate control specialist Climaveneta, said: "London has even greater potential than Milan. The aquifer is confined over most of London by a layer of impermeable bedrock exactly like in Milan. Since the 1960s, with the steep decrease of water usage by industry, the water level has started to rise by three meters per year. Groundwater can supply millions of kWh of energy.

"As an average, 25 per cent of the commercial and industrial sector's energy consumption is devoted to space heating and cooling, so the use of the potential energy in groundwater could reduce Greater London's commercial and industrial sector energy consumption for space heating and cooling by around four per cent."

Effective use of groundwater to generate heat and cooling requires heat pump technology. Within the range of heat pumps on the market, Climaveneta's four-pipe air and water source Integra models offer simultaneous heating and cooling capability with advanced heat recovery — freely obtained as waste heat from the chilling cycle.

Mauro Montello, Sales and Marketing Director at Climaveneta, said: "Research developed in cooperation with Padua University, Faculty of Engineering, on a real building located in Milan, has revealed the energy reduction of an air source Integra system compared to a traditional chiller and boiler is 285MWh, which represents 30 per cent of the building’s total energy consumption."

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