E-USE - Europe-wide Use of Sustainable Energy from Aquifers

Challenge Platform: Sustainable City Systems

Project duration: 03/2013 – 03/2014 (1 year)

Lead partner: Deltares, NL

Project type: Pathfinder – Exploring future demands, assessing potential for innovations to meet those demands and identifying barriers to the deployment

Project lead: Nanne Hoekstra <nanne.hoekstra@deltares.nl>


The E-USE project involves 8 partners in 5 European countries:


Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage (ATES) systems have the potential to provide a significant tool for climate change mitigation. Using aquifers as a source for thermal energy can provide heating and cooling for houses, offices and other buildings. In comparison to the use of fossil fuels, as well as providing up to 60%  CO₂ reductions, these systems are also more cost effective. E-USE(aq) aims to demonstrate the benefits and the potential impact of the large scale ATES utilisation.

Whilst the benefits of using ATES systems in both their cost and energy efficiency are obvious, their widespread application faces a number of barriers. For instance, strict regulations, with fears of increased ground water contamination, currently limit their research across Europe. But also this technology is simply still not well-known. Hence, the benefits of using ATES systems are not being fully explored.

The Project Solution

The main objective is for E-USE(aq) to prove the attractiveness and potential impact of utilising large-scale ATES. Research has already shown that sustainable and multi-functional use of groundwater resources is possible. This earlier research programme, involving E-USE(aq) partners, found that ATES did not appear to stimulate growth of pathogenic micro-organisms and may actually enhance dissolving and degradation of groundwater contaminants. Thus, the programme concluded that existing barrieres to implementing ATES systems could be overcome with smart designs, sound monitoring and sensible management.

A number of full scale pilot tests across Europe will be designed in this Pathfinder project in order to be carried out in an Innovation project to follow, thus exploring the potential use of these subterranean thermal resources. The aim is to demonstrate the potential reduction in fossil fuel consumption and GHG emissions.

The barriers preventing ATES systems implementation will be identified so that a wide-scale market of ATES can be introduced. The market will then be assessed for potential ATES implementation (in Italy, Spain, Belgium, Germany and the UK) locating test and demonstration sites. The test sites will be developed as business models and subsequently used to publicise ATES to potential industrial financial partners and prospective clients.