EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Numerical modelling of high-temperature aquifer thermal energy storage (HT-ATES) in the Upper Jurassic reservoir of the German Molasse Basin

Kalliopi Tzoufka1, Daniela Pfrang1, Daniel Bohnsack2,3, and Kai Zosseder1
Kalliopi Tzoufka et al.
  • 1Technical University of Munich, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Geothermal Energy Group, Germany
  • 2Technical University of Munich, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Professorship of Geothermal Technologies, Germany
  • 3SWM Stadtwerke München, Germany

High-temperature aquifer thermal energy storage (HT-ATES) can contribute in balancing the spatiotemporal mismatch that arises between periods of excess energy supply in contrast to phases of high energy demand. Excess energy can be stored under the form of thermal energy in the subsurface by utilizing methods stemming from geothermal engineering applications. In order to increase the efficiency of operating geothermal systems at the German Molasse Basin, such concepts are currently considered for the storage of high-temperature fluids in the Upper Jurassic Reservoir (Malm) of the North Alpine Foreland Basin. The karstified and fractured Malm aquifer comprises a site of extensive and continuously increasing investigation and implementation of geothermal projects. Nevertheless, the suitability of this reservoir for the development of ATES systems has not been yet considerably investigated. In this work we present our initial approach to evaluate the potential for thermal energy storage application in the Upper Jurassic reservoir.

Due to the high structural and geological heterogeneity of the Malm aquifer, a subset of this reservoir, with favourable temperatures for heat storage, is investigated here that corresponds to segments governed by karst-dominated fluid flow. The numerical analysis builds upon three currently operating geothermal systems that exhibit such a characteristic karst-controlled fluid flow in depths of ca. 2000–3000 m TVD. In fact, a comprehensive analysis of borehole log data shows that several stratigraphic units contribute as inflow zones in those systems, however the main proportion of inflow results from the karstified zones. The model domain is, therefore, subdivided into three homogeneous units with the shallower layer representing a karstified unit, while the deeper units correspond to the less productive limestone and dolostone sequences of the Malm reservoir. Thermal and hydraulic properties are deciphered by field tests performed in the considered geothermal systems, their respective well logs as well as investigations of rock cores from two wells penetrating into the Malm reservoir (Bohnsack et al., 2020).

While those enhanced-permeability reservoirs may represent good candidates for subsurface heat storage due to high injectivity, they simultaneously enable high fluid fluxes that may in turn induce considerable thermal losses. A numerical analysis is performed here to capture and describe the governing physical processes, and to assess the potential of HT-ATES application in such reservoirs. Synthetic numerical models are hence developed that are based on the three considered geothermal systems of the Upper Jurassic reservoir. This approach enables to quantify thermal and hydraulic effects of heat storage, to identify potential hydraulic and thermal interference between injection and production, and to assess developing advective heat fluxes which may trigger heat losses and thus impede long-term sustainable operation of HT-ATES systems. Numerical results contribute into a better understanding of the reservoir behaviour and further into prediction of the system response under different background conditions.



Bohnsack, D., Potten, M., Pfrang, D., Wolpert, P., Zosseder, K. Porosity–permeability relationship derived from Upper Jurassic carbonate rock cores to assess the regional hydraulic matrix properties of the Malm reservoir in the South German Molasse Basin. Geothermal Energy 8, 12 (2020).

How to cite: Tzoufka, K., Pfrang, D., Bohnsack, D., and Zosseder, K.: Numerical modelling of high-temperature aquifer thermal energy storage (HT-ATES) in the Upper Jurassic reservoir of the German Molasse Basin, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-14784,, 2023.