How can geosynthetics help energy transition?
Urgent action is required in the energy sector in order to achieve decarbonization.
Burning fossil fuels for energy is a major source of carbon dioxide, contributing to the greenhouse gas (GHG) responsible for global warming. Decarbonizing our energy systems to produce no GHGs is vital for reducing the damage caused by global climate change.
The market for sustainable energy solutions is growing rapidly and geosynthetics have a large part to play in this.
More than 30 years ago, the first Pit Thermal Energy Storages (PTES) were developed using geosynthetics. These PTES utilize heat-storage systems to increase the solar share of solar-thermal district heating to more than 50% – reducing the costs of heat supply. Increasing the solar ration with the help of a storage system with solar thermal system remains effective.
The goals are to establish large and efficient seasonal or multifunctional storage systems as economically as possible. These storage systems supply entire residential areas or districts with green district heating from renewable or climate-neutral heat sources. Essentially, this means storing surplus energy in the summer and using it in winter.
Storing solar thermal energy in summer for supply to district-heating networks in winter is an incredibly efficient way to heat. The heating sector consumes almost twice as much energy as the electricity sector. Large quantities of renewable or climate-neutral heat can be stored in different heat storage systems such as a PTES. This enables a more flexible supply of renewable heat sources and helps to stabilize the price of heating. The sealing systems and floating covers can be built with geosynthetics, creating a sustainable and cost-efficient solution.
However, sealing poses particular challenges to engineers and installers. The pond sealing and cover system must offer reliable tightness during service life at both high and low temperatures and in all weather conditions. A good insulation system also needs to have long-term durability and be temperature-resistant, light, stable and cost-efficient.
Aided by its own installation teams, Solmax has been building pit thermal energy storage systems worldwide for several years. The GSE® HDH Series withstands high temperatures and provides a long service life.
Solmax’s EfficientPit research team is investigating materials and working on optimizing the design of floating PTES covers. The four-year long research project – funded by the German federal government – includes real-time exposure and laboratory testing procedures to further enhance the geosynthetic components for all conditions. Thus, users perceive how temperature-resistant plastic waterproof sheeting deteriorates over time and in response to high pressures and temperatures in autoclaves and furnaces. The EfficientPit team also conducts deformation tests to explore how stable the artificially deteriorated materials are.
Geosynthetic solutions from Solmax are making various district heating projects remain as sustainable as possible. Heat transition is essential for the success of energy transition. Germany's first ground-based heat storage tank is being built in the city of Meldorf. In perspective, several buildings in the city will be supplied with climate-friendly district heating, including public properties such as schools, swimming pools and museums.
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