Feasibility study into aquifer thermal energy storage in Busan Eco-Delta City (Korea)

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The Korean District Heating Engineering Co. Ltd. (KDHEC) and the Dutch engineering and  consultancy firm Witteveen+Bos are performing a feasibility study of applying aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES) in the Busan Eco-Delta City-area in Korea.

Busan Eco-Delta City (EDC) is one two focus cities in South-Korea, named Korean National Pilot Smart Cities, that is allowed to build new smart districts ‘from scratch’. It is located in a coastal, delta area and is the economic, cultural and educational centre of south eastern South-Korea.  K-Water (Korea Water Resources Corporation) is the developer of Busan Smart City.


In a joint study, KDHEC and Witteveen+Bos are researching the possibilities of the storage and recovery of thermal energy in the subsurface to provide heating and cooling within the Busan EDC-area. The feasibility study is the first project in the cooperation between South Korea and the Netherlands, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between both countries on smart cities in 2019.

Storage and recovery of thermal energy is achieved by extraction and injection of groundwater from aquifers using groundwater wells. When replacing traditional fossil fuel dependent heating and cooling systems, ATES can serve as a cost-effective technology to significantly reduce the primary energy consumption of buildings and the associated CO2 emissions and will therefore contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


The study include the analysis of geological and hydrological data, the possibility of applying ATES to the Busan EDC-area, design of ATES, economic validity, energy saving effect, CO2 reduction effect and suggestions for realizing a good ATES in Busan EDC-area. Busan Eco-Delta City is designed to improve the lives of Koreans and achieve economic growth. There are big ambitions concerning implementing energy-saving technologies, among which aquifer thermal energy storage systems.


Korea District Heating Engineering Co., Ltd. (KDHEC) was established on November 1st, 1991 by the joint venture between state-owned Korea District Heating Corporation (KDHC) and Finland’s global consulting expert Poyry (now Afry) .Through years of experience and proven technical capability, KDHEC performs feasibility studies and engineering services for district heating and combined heat and power (CHP) generation projects at a global level.

Through numerous projects and years of experience, KDHEC has accumulated specialized know-how and technology becoming a global powerhouse in the district heating sector and currently supplies over 3 million households. KDHEC has performed over 700 CHP and combined cycle power plant design projects resulting in a cumulative design generation capacity of over 14,000MW. KDHEC also has an overseas track record, having performed district heating design/consulting, CHP design, and biomass power plant design projects in Mongolia, Vietnam, Peru, Japan, etc.

K-Water and Busan EDC

K-Water, the Korea Water Resources Corporation, is the governmental agency for comprehensive water resource development and providing both public and industrial water. K-Water, established in 1967, is creating Busan EDC, a smart city with differentiated water management technologies such as water circulation and mini-rainfall radars.  Busan EDC will be created as a water specialized smart city where K-water’s water technologies are applied. It is also Korea’s unique water specialized city model created to respond to climate change by applying advanced smart water management services to the entire process of water circulation in the city. The smart city uses new and renewable energy generated from natural sources such as water and solar energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve 100 % energy self-sufficiency. K-water’s Busan Eco-Delta Smart City (EDC) is an eco-friendly city that actively utilizes renewable energy like hydro-thermal energy and geothermal energy as its heating and cooling energy.

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