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Fact sheet on the use of thermal energy from lakes rivers

March 1, 2022 | Andri Bryner

The use of lake and river water to generate heat and cold is constantly increasing. The potential is enormous. Nevertheless, negative impacts on aquatic ecosystems must be avoided. A fact sheet from Eawag lists the key points in this regard.

The population of Geneva has just voted in favour of the expansion of the heating network by almost 80%. The use of Lake Geneva as a heat reservoir is central to this. There are also expansion projects on Lake Lucerne, Lake Biel, Lake Zurich and Lake Constance, or larger plants are already in operation. The thermal use of surface waters is gaining in importance, not least in the context of the new federal energy strategy. It includes heat extraction for heating purposes, but also disposal for cooling purposes. This raises the question of the ecological impacts on the lakes and rivers used. Within the framework of an applied project, Eawag has developed a basis for this. A new fact sheet summarises the key points that need to be taken into account.

Video about thermal use of lake Geneva (SRF, Schweiz aktuell, 19th January 2022, in german).

The Thermdis project was supported by the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN).

Cover picture: Lakes store large amounts of heat. (Photo: Eawag)