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New Technologies for Reliable Renewable Heat Storage

The Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) is spearheading an international research initiative, dubbed "INTERSTORES," aimed at advancing the development of cutting-edge seasonal thermal energy storage systems.

house in winter - heating system concept and cold snowy weather with model of a house wearing a knitted cap

Image Credit: Kishivan/

This collaborative project, funded by nearly eleven million euros under "Horizon Europe," with MLU receiving approximately 1.5 million euros, seeks to optimize the design and integration of novel storage solutions into existing energy frameworks. By enhancing efficiency, lowering production expenses, and facilitating market adoption, the project aims to propel heat storage technology toward greater maturity and widespread utilization.

A significant hurdle in renewable energy utilization is its long-term storage capability. Regions with temperate climates often experience an excess of energy, particularly heat, during the summer months, yet face shortages during colder periods.

That is why we need simple and cost-effective solutions so that, for example, the surplus energy from the summer can be used in the winter.

Peter Bayer, Professor and Geoscientist, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

Peter Bayer heads the project.

The initial heat storage systems are operational, employing various technologies. In one approach, water is heated using solar energy or surplus heat from buildings and industrial facilities and stored in substantial underground tanks. The aim is to accumulate sufficient energy reserves to sustain heating needs through the winter months.

These large-scale thermal energy storage systems remain relatively scarce at present.

There are several barriers to tackle, including high investment costs, associated economic risks, and a lack of practical tools for planning and integrating these systems into local heating networks.

Peter Bayer, Professor and Geoscientist, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

"INTERSTORES" seeks to systematically tackle these challenges. The consortium comprises partners from nine diverse countries, each specializing in areas such as business, engineering, geosciences, and environmental technology.

The project endeavors to showcase the construction of large-scale storage systems with a focus on efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and environmental sustainability. Two distinct facilities are under investigation within the project timeframe.

One facility is being developed within a repurposed basin infrastructure in Ingolstadt, Germany. Concurrently, a massive cavern, capable of storing approximately one million cubic meters of water, is being excavated from solid rock near Helsinki, Finland.

By including these two demonstration plants in the project, we have the unique opportunity to investigate the technology at full scale. We want to close critical knowledge gaps to create reliable, functionally robust systems and to obtain practical information for specific implementation projects in the future.

Peter Bayer, Professor and Geoscientist, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

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