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Alternative and sustainable heat production for drinking water needs in a subarctic climate (Nunavik, Canada): Borehole thermal energy storage to reduce fossil fuel dependency in off-grid communities


  • Giordano, Nicolò
  • Raymond, Jasmin


The development of renewable energy technologies in the Arctic faces technical barriers mainly related to extremely cold temperature. Moreover, storage issues to bridge the gap between supply and demand are more compelling than in temperate climates. Can underground thermal energy storage be efficiently used in such a cold environment to offer a viable seasonal storage alternative? This working hypothesis was tested by designing and simulating for the first time a borehole thermal energy storage facility in a subarctic climate. A system comprising a 1000 m2 gross solar area and one hundred 30–m–deep borehole heat exchangers was simulated in TRNSYS to cover part of the heating demand of a pumping station that supplies drinking water in Kuujjuaq (Northern Québec, Canada). The Nunavik capital is characterized by more than 8000 heating degree days below 18 °C and average spring-summer solar radiation of 4.6 kWh m−2 d−1. Despite the presence of discontinuous scattered permafrost in the area, the study site is free of frozen ground, likely due to a talik that developed around a nearby lake. A number of scenarios reveal that solar fraction of 45 to 50% and heat recovery of more than 60% can be achieved by the 3rd year of operation, resulting in annual savings of 7000 l of regular diesel consumption. A 50-years life-cycle cost analysis demonstrates that a specific incentive program can guarantee similar net present cost and levelized cost of energy compared to the current diesel-dependent situation, or better if electricity comes from renewable source. An additional 10% loss of thermal energy occurs when groundwater advection is a factor. FEFLOW simulations demonstrate that square-shaped storage together with a newly-proposed borehole connection design can reduce advection heat loss by 60% and improve the overall performance of the system. This work validates the technical viability of underground thermal energy storage in subarctic climates and indicates it could help reduce fossil fuel consumption in remote arctic regions across the world. Moreover, the novel type of borehole connection designed for this study can be useful in seasonal storage systems facing low heat recovery due to groundwater flow, regardless of climate.

Suggested Citation

  • Giordano, Nicolò & Raymond, Jasmin, 2019. "Alternative and sustainable heat production for drinking water needs in a subarctic climate (Nunavik, Canada): Borehole thermal energy storage to reduce fossil fuel dependency in off-grid communities," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 252(C), pages 1-1.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:252:y:2019:i:c:15
    DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2019.113463

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Nicolò Giordano & Louis Lamarche & Jasmin Raymond, 2021. "Evaluation of Subsurface Heat Capacity through Oscillatory Thermal Response Tests," Energies, MDPI, vol. 14(18), pages 1-26, September.
    2. Nehed Jaziri & Jasmin Raymond & Nicoló Giordano & John Molson, 2019. "Long-Term Temperature Evaluation of a Ground-Coupled Heat Pump System Subject to Groundwater Flow," Energies, MDPI, vol. 13(1), pages 1-19, December.
    3. Liu, Changchun & Han, Wei & Wang, Zefeng & Zhang, Na & Kang, Qilan & Liu, Meng, 2021. "Proposal and assessment of a new solar space heating system by integrating an absorption-compression heat pump," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 294(C).
    4. Magnus de Witt & Hlynur Stefánsson & Ágúst Valfells & Joan Nymand Larsen, 2021. "Availability and Feasibility of Renewable Resources for Electricity Generation in the Arctic: The Cases of Longyearbyen, Maniitsoq, and Kotzebue," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(16), pages 1-20, August.
    5. Viktoriia Brazovskaia & Svetlana Gutman & Andrey Zaytsev, 2021. "Potential Impact of Renewable Energy on the Sustainable Development of Russian Arctic Territories," Energies, MDPI, vol. 14(12), pages 1-19, June.
    6. Mafalda M. Miranda & Jasmin Raymond & Chrystel Dezayes, 2020. "Uncertainty and Risk Evaluation of Deep Geothermal Energy Source for Heat Production and Electricity Generation in Remote Northern Regions," Energies, MDPI, vol. 13(16), pages 1-35, August.
    7. Wołoszyn, Jerzy, 2020. "Global sensitivity analysis of borehole thermal energy storage efficiency for seventeen material, design and operating parameters," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 545-559.

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