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Soil store for solar energy

AN INNOVATIVE energy project that stores solar energy in the ground has been built in Amorbach, Germany.

The system uses solar panels to collect heat energy which is fed into and withdrawn from the ground via polybutene tubes. On this site, 14,000m3 of soil will store the heat and 168, 30m deep probes placed at 2m intervals, installed by German geotechnical contractor Heinz Burkhardt, are being used.

The District heat concept 2000 aims to develop a system that will use renewable energy to find a cost effective solution to reduce energy loss from buildings. The facility covers 15,000m2 and will supply around 5,000Mwh/a of heat at 90% efficiency. Total investment is estimated at DM24.5M (£8.4M).

It is claimed that the store will be around 40% more cost effective than conventional systems and is more environmentally friendly. Its modular construction also means it can be adapted for different sites where the geology is suitable.

The project is being financed by the Federal Ministry for Science, Research & Engineering as part of a Solartherme 2000 project being carried out by Stuttgart University, the Steinbeis Transfer Centre and Neckarsulm municipal utilities.

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