London Underground – The World’s Largest Man Made Geothermal Energy System

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Report Predicts That Storage Technology Is Set To Become A Key Component In The Renewable Energy Supply Chain.

It is the world’s oldest underground railway systems and for more than one hundred years the clay surrounding its tunnels has been absorbing heat from trains and passengers. Now, each summer passengers travelling on ‘the tube’ have to endure temperatures in excess of those recommended for the safe transport of animals. Passengers are advised to carry water at all times and emergency services are frequently called upon to revive passengers who collapse from heat exhaustion. According to a report published this week by Cambridge UK analysts CarbonFree the overheating on London’s mass transit system typifies the problems that exist within so called ‘Urban Heat Islands,' - basically energy ends up stored in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Ironically, London is currently experiencing another energy crisis and is attempting to negotiate a deal with Venezuela that would involve buying oil at a reduced price in exchange for a range of consultancy and promotional services.

In the report, “Watts In Store – Storing Renewable Energy” Carbon free suggests that the ability to store energy will be a key to the successful wide scale exploitation of renewable energy sources. According to the author of the report, Remi Wilkinson, “There is a range of technologies and business models that can be deployed to extract, conserve and market energy within Urban Heat Islands. While energy prices remain high, we would see both conventional and next generation energy providers extracting and marketing heat energy.” CarbonFree highlights a system used in the Netherlands called ‘road energy’ which takes heat energy out of tarmac roads during the summer and stores it in an aquifer until it is required for warming buildings during the winter. The report suggests that similar techniques could also be used to extract heat from underground mass transit systems and supply it to businesses above ground.

The report identifies a wide range of technologies used to store renewable energy, from flywheels and compressed air to bio-fuels and hydrogen fuel cells. CarbonFree sees hydrogen-based fuel cell technology competing with both conventional fossil fuels and Bio fuels for a share of the automotive energy market. It expects bio-fuels to win this battle in the short term due to the close fit with current refuelling infrastructure. However, according the report, as the bio fuel market grows, political issues and shortages, which today characterise the fossil fuel market, will begin to impact on bio fuel refiners.

The report “Watts In Store – Storing Renewable Energy” is available from the CarbonFree website.

About CarbonFree

CarbonFree carries out research and analysis in a wide range of alternative energy related fields and disseminates results in its highly focussed CarbonFree reports. It also helps organisations reposition themselves in the rapidly evolving alternative energy market.

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Toby Jackson


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