In the field of Geoenergy, we focus on geothermal energy, which is independent of daily and seasonal variations and therefore complementary to wind and solar energy. In addition, geothermal applications have a particular advantage, in that their operation sizes are small. Accordingly, such applications are useful for urban areas, where space is always a rarity.
For the sustainable and commercial utilization of geothermal resources, knowledge about the subsurface, with respect to the geological structure and hydrogeological properties, is worthwhile to have. Measurements in the field, analytical, as well as numerical modelling, are the tools we use to investigate, understand and utilize the subsurface.
One of our research topics is the urban environment. On the one hand, geothermal energy can directly be used in cities without an energy loss due to transport. On the other hand, the subsurface areas beneath cities have a high heating potential, because human beings deliver a significant heat input into the shallow subsurface due to buildings, streets, tunnels and sewage systems.
Another research topic is the utilization of geothermal energy for heating and cooling using borehole heat exchangers, groundwater heat pumps and other collectors. We explore the optimization of such technologies and methods for collecting heat in the subsurface, on a local and regional scale, in order to have better-performing systems.
The tomographic approach is the technique we use for exploring the thermal field in the subsurface. It can be used for shallow geothermal, along with deep geothermal projects. We develop innovative methods of hydraulic rock tomography, tracer tomography and couple these approaches. Using this methods, we build links between measurements in the field and numerical modelling (e.g. inversion methods) to spatio-temporally characterize the heterogeneity of the subsurface.
Energy generation is not the only research topic we are working on. The possibilities of storing heat and cold in artificial basins in the subsurface are also part of our research topics. This work aims at the increase in the use of energy storage systems by linking engineering and geoscientific knowledge and applying it in practice in those systems.
Finally, the basic research on geothermal energy is complemented by methods on live cycle assessment and live cycle cost analysis, in order to holistically evaluate geothermal applications.