Optimal Seasonal Heat Storage in a District Heating System with Waste Incineration

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European Union climate goals aim to increase waste incineration instead of landfills. Incineration of waste increases the mismatch between heat production and consumption since waste is generated constantly but energy demand varies significantly between seasons. Seasonal energy storage is suggested to alleviate this mismatch. However, traditional seasonal storage options have not been cost-effective investments for energy companies. This paper explores the feasibility of a large cavern thermal energy storage in a large district heating system with waste incineration. First, 62 one-year optimisations for seasonal storage with varying size and power were conducted to determine the economic performance of the system. Second, the annual system emissions were estimated. The results show that even small capacity seasonal storage reduces system emissions significantly. Return on investment for the most profitable storage with a capacity of 90 GWh and power of 200 MW range between 3.6% and 9.4%, and the investment varies between EUR 43–112 M depending on costs. Seasonal energy storages are still not as profitable as traditional energy investments. This might change due to growing waste heat recovery and the rising cost of carbon emissions. Further research is needed into new business models for implementing large seasonal storages.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3522
Number of pages15
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • seasonal heat storage
  • district heating
  • energy system optimisation
  • built environment
  • energy consumption


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