Foto CSM_RED_Bohranlage © RAG Archiv

Geothermal heating and cooling networks for industry, commerce and residential buildings

by Oxana Schmidt
  • The NEFI research project CASCADE is developing concepts for the geothermal heat supply of two municipalities and two industrial companies in Upper Austria
  • Step-by-step heat utilisation creates valuable synergies to supply entire regions with locally available, renewable heat

In the current NEFI project CASCADE, the geothermal potential in Steyr, Gmunden and St. Martin im Mühlkreis in the industrial, commercial and residential sectors will be investigated over the next two years until the end of 2025 using the innovative method of gradual heat utilization. This technology makes it possible to use the thermal energy generated not just once, but in successive stages or "cascades" for various purposes, from heat for industry to heating buildings, with decreasing temperatures. This enables better overall use of the heat and reduces energy consumption at the same time. The high energy requirements of industry, commerce and households pose a major challenge for achieving climate targets. As a sustainable form of energy generation, geothermal energy has great potential to cover part of this energy demand.

Edith Haslinger, Project Manager CASCADE, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology: 'The NEFI project CASCADE demonstrates the high potential for a local, decarbonised heat supply with geothermal energy for the first time using three specific use cases in Upper Austria. Cascading heat utilisation exploits the full potential of geothermal resources: from supplying industrial companies with high-temperature heat from deep geothermal energy to reusing the residual heat in low-temperature heating/cooling networks for residential and commercial use.'

Wolfgang Hribernik, Head of Center for Energy, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology and NEFI Network Coordinator: 'The CASCADE research project is of great importance for Upper Austria as a business location. It paves the way for municipalities and businesses to utilise geothermal resources and thus creates the basis for independence from external fossil energy sources. As a locally available, sustainable energy source, geothermal energy also has the potential to make a significant contribution to reducing CO₂ emissions.'

Industrial use of geothermal energy in the Gmunden dairy farm

The processing of milk in large dairies requires a lot of energy for heating and cooling the dairy products. At the Gmund dairy, the use of geothermal energy creates a win-win situation for both the production process and the town's heat supply. In the CASCADE project, geothermal energy is used to supply the production facilities and integrated into the Gmunden heating network in a cascade after the dairy has been supplied.

Integration of geothermal energy into Steyr's heating network

The third largest city in Upper Austria is focusing on a sustainable heat supply. In Steyr, the project focus is therefore on integrating geothermal energy into the heating network, with the particular challenge being to supply the valuable historic building stock.

Brewing beer with geothermal energy in St. Martin im Mühlkreis

Breweries are among the energy-intensive branches of the food industry that use a high proportion of fossil fuels. At the Hofstetten brewery in St. Martin im Mühlkreis, the project focuses on converting the energy-intensive brewing process to the use of geothermal energy and other energy efficiency measures.

Project partners

The CASCADE consortium, led by the AIT-Austrian Institute of Technology, brings together partners from various sectors such as research, municipalities, planning and industry: RED Drilling & Services, RAG Austria AG, SIRIUS-ES Handels GmbH, the City of Steyr, Montanuniversität Leoben (Chair of Energy Network Technology), Gmundner Molkerei GmbH, Energie AG, Brauerei Hofstetten Krammer GmbH & Co KG, the Municipality of Gmunden. The NEFI project is funded by the Climate and Energy Fund as part of the Vorzeigeregion Energie, endowed with funds from the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK).

More information about the project: CASCADE | NEFI.

Link to the OTS-Press release (In German).