Tapping into a source of heating just two meters below ground


FAU coordinating network for promoting shallow geothermal systems

Geothermal energy: a sustainable alternative to standard methods of heating. In a new network within the ‘Central Innovation Programme for SME’ led by geologists from Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), scientists and representatives of SME’s are now investigating the potential of a new form of geothermal energy: shallow geothermal systems and low-temperature district heating networks.
As collectors for shallow ground source heat pumps are installed only one and a half or two metres below the surface of the earth, there is no need to drill a borehole. The fluid used to transport the heat, a mixture of water and glycol, is transported to individual houses via a ground loop. ‘The basic warmth absorbed in the pipes is then raised to the required level in the houses using heat pumps,’ explains FAU geologist Dr. David Bertermann, project coordinator for the coordination network.

A solution for the entire district

One special feature of shallow geothermal systems is that ‘using this technology, a system can be put in place to supply a whole district of up to 150 detached houses with heating,’ says Bertermann. Homeowners can benefit from synergies between networks, and at the same time it is easier to ensure that systems such as these have the correct dimensions and can cope better with surges in demand for energy than individual systems. In addition, this technology can be used not only to heat buildings but also to cool them down.

The newly-formed coordination network ‘Shallow geothermal systems and low-temperature district heating 4.0’ which is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy consists of three research institutions, nine SME’s and three larger energy suppliers. It is being coordinated by geologists from FAU, led by Dr. David Bertermann. ‘The aim of the network is to integrate innovative products all along the value chain – from the collector system to techniques used for installation and heat pumps to the end customer – into new concepts for residential areas.

Central Innovation Programme for SME

The Central Innovation Programme for SME (ZIM) is a nationwide funding programme set up by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy which is not restricted to any particular industry or technology and is aimed at encouraging the competitiveness and innovation of companies in the long term. Further information on ZIM is available at

Further information:

Dr. David Bertermann
Phone: +49 9131 8525824

Addition informations