According to Eurostat, almost half of the European Union’s energy consumption is dedicated to heating and cooling. The imperative to decarbonise our heating systems is crucial for mitigating Europe’s CO2 emissions and limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. To achieve this, tapping into all available renewable energy sources is essential, and one such often overlooked source is surface water.

Aquathermal energy

Aquathermal energy involves the extraction of heat or cold from water surfaces, such as rivers, lakes or the sea. A heat exchanger extracts heat from the water, slightly reducing its temperature. An electrically driven heat pump then elevates the temperature to provide heating and domestic hot water in winter. Moreover, the temperature of surface water can be utilised to cool buildings in summer.

While new technologies make aquathermal energy an efficient heating source, it remains a largely untapped resource. Implementing this technology in community-led projects could provide zero-emissions heating systems that can be integrated into existing infrastructure, boosting energy efficiency and empowering citizens to accelerate a bottom-up, just energy transition.

For this reason,, in collaboration with our member Ecopower and other partners, started the AquaCOM project in summer 2023.

EXTRAQT Infographic Open Systeem s RGB 2000 1 copy
Representation of an aquathermal energy installation. (c) EXTRAQT

The AquaCOM project

Funded by Interreg North-West Europe, AquaCOM aims to facilitate the uptake of community-led aquathermal heating and cooling systems in North-West Europe. This involves the development of replicable models, along with training and capacity building activities.

Aqua COM logo for Word template copy

Project objectives

More specifically, AquaCOM has the following objectives:

  • Identify strategies for energy communities to implement aquathermal energy systems.
  • Deploy three pilot aquathermal heating systems that will serve as replicability models for other energy communities. The pilots will test different types of surface water and will be located in Rotselaar, Belgium; Vlieland, Netherlands; and Lorient, France.
  • Create learning materials and training opportunities for energy communities interested in aquathermal energy projects. This includes providing dedicated support to 15 energy communities planning to develop aquathermal energy systems in their regions.
Luchtfoto MVR2009 003 website copy
Mill of Rotselaar, AquaCOM pilot site in Belgium. (c) Ecopower

Expected results

Through these activities, we aim to inspire and empower energy communities across five North-West Europe regions (Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland) to exploit aquathermal energy sources. This will contribute to demonstrating the potential of aquathermal energy and pave the way for a more sustainable heating model in Europe.

Key project details

Excited about the potential of aquathermal energy? We will share updates and learning opportunities next year. Stay tuned!