SimulationX at TU Darmstadt

SimulationX enables researchers to investigate the seasonal energy storage systems of the future

Researching Deep Borehole Heat Storage Systems

The TU Darmstadt Institute of Applied Geosciences (IAG) under the direction of Professor Ingo Sass is a leader in the investigation of the potential of deep boreholes for use as seasonal energy storages. In a recent master thesis by Julian Formhals, TU Darmstadt IAG used the simulation software SimulationX to research the potential of a seasonal energy storage connected to a district heating system to store solar energy from the summer months to be used for heating office buildings during the winter.

The task at hand

Proof of Concept and Dimensioning

A district heating system supplies hot water from a central heat source (e.g. combined heat and power plant) to multiple buildings via a network of pipes. In order to increase the proportion of renewable energy sources used for heating buildings, solar thermal collectors can be used to capture solar radiation and transfer it to a heat transfer fluid. The difficulty with solar energy for heating is that the heat supply, mainly occurring in the summer months, does not line up with the heat demand of the winter months. One potential solution to overcome this challenge is storing the heat won during the summer months in deep boreholes.

Deep borehole energy storage technology is not yet ready for the commercial market. However, multiple examples exist worldwide to investigate the potential and increase the efficiency of these storage systems. Sizing and calculating a seasonal energy storage system has multiple levels of complexity: e.g. time and location dependent weather data and building heat consumption, subterranean heat dissipation from the energy storage, as well as the effects of heat pumps and control systems. In order to move this technology forward to being ready for market, the system as a whole and its potential for improvement needs to be investigated and understood.

The solution

Simulation with the SimulationX Module Green-Building

The Green-Building module of SimulationX was chosen to calculate the solar thermal system, the district heating system, heat pump and controls. The heat consumption curves for the buildings over a full year were used as input data, and the SimulationX model was connected to an existing model of the deep borehole heat storage system in MATLAB using the co-simulation interface for MATLAB/Simulink. One difficulty in simulating seasonal energy storages is that very long time periods (multiple years) need to be calculated in order to achieve a representative value for the effectiveness of the energy storage system. The Green-Building module made it possible to enter parameters e.g. from the manufacturers of the solar panels and heat pump in order to achieve both realistic results and fast simulation times.

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The benefits

Identify Energy-Saving Potential

Using a SimulationX model and co-simulation with MATLAB, TU Darmstadt was able to create a virtual prototype of an energy storage system that in real life would have had investment costs of millions of euros. The simulation model enables the researchers to calculate an entire year’s worth of data in a single workday, making it possible to find the optimal layout and sizing of system components such as tanks, heat pumps and solar panels. Additionally, various control strategies can be tested to determine the effect on the system efficiency and push the technology development forward in order to meet the goal of market readiness in 2020.

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