Review of seasonal heat storage in large basins: Water tanks and gravel-water pits

A.V. Novo, J.R. Bayon, D. Castro-Fresno, J. Rodriguez-Hernandez

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199 Citations (Scopus)
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In order to respond to climatic change, many efforts have been made to reduce harmful gas emissions. According to energy policies, an important goal is the implementation of renewable energy sources, as well as electrical and oil combustion savings through energy conservation. This paper focuses on an extensive review of the technologies developed, so far, for central solar heating systems employing seasonal sensible water storage in artificial large scale basins. Among technologies developed since the late 1970s, the use of underground spaces as an energy storage medium – Underground Thermal Energy Storage (UTES) – has been investigated and closely observed in experimental plants in many countries, most of them, as part of government programmes. These projects attempt to optimise technical and economic aspects within an international knowledge exchange; as a result, UTES is becoming a reliable option to save energy through energy conservation. Other alternatives to UTES include large water tanks and gravel–water pits, also called man-made or artificial aquifers. This implies developing this technology by construction and leaving natural aquifers untouched. The present article reviews most studies and results obtained in this particular area to show the technical and economical feasibility for each system and specifics problems occurred during construction and operation. Advantages and disadvantages are pointed out to compare both alternatives. The projects discussed have been carried out mainly in European states with some references to other countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)390-397
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Energy
Issue number2
Early online date5 Aug 2009
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Applied Energy. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Applied Energy, 87:2, (2010) DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2009.06.033

© 2009, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


  • Thermal energy storage
  • Energy conservation
  • Artificial aquifers


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