In face of hardship and resilience, EU GEO4CIVHIC project turns 36 months

UNESCO through its Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe is coordinating, within the framework of the H2020 project GEO4CIVHIC, one real demo site in Italy and one virtually in Croatia. The status of installing systems and virtual simulations were discussed by the partners and the coordinator ISAC-CNR during the online General Assembly last March after 36 months of activity. Despite numerous difficulties encountered during the pandemic, the greenlight was received from the European Commission after evaluating the second reporting period.

GEO4CIVHIC is an acronymn for “Most Easy, Efficient and Low-Cost Geothermal Systems for Retrofitting Civil and Historical Buildings”. It is a 48-month project which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement No. 792355.

The overall technological approach of the project is to reduce cost, increase efficiency and ease installation of each of the main components of the geothermal systems. This would be done by developing technical innovations in drilling machines tailored specifically for the built environment. It would also include borehole heat exchangers, heat pumps, controls, and integration of other hybrids. With the development of engineering and decision support tools, it will become easier to identify the most appropriate solutions. This will help raise awareness, increase credibility and supporting implementation.

With the support of the management authorities and the technical partners, the UNESCO Regional Bureau supervises the real demonstration site of Porta degli Angeli in Ferrara, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Italy, and the virtual demo site Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments in the town of Split in Croatia.

The General Assembly convened by the project’s coordinator, CNR-ISAC, celebrated the 36-month period since the beginning of the project in 2018. The goal was to review the project’s progress and assure the compliance of its objectives, despite the on-going pandemic.

The General Assembly was also an occasion to celebrate the successful evaluation received by the European Commission upon submission in winter of the second technical report about progress and results achieved in the first 30 months of the GEO4CIVHIC project. The next 42nd General Assembly is scheduled in September 2021 optimistically in person.

During the General Assembly, over 40 participants discussed the intense impact of COVID-19 on the project’s development. All task leaders emphasised that the pandemic’s limitations have hindered the ability to perform important onsite installation operations and subsequent tasks in accordance to the project’s timeline which was established at the project’s beginning. As a result, the timeline of the project was reviewed in context of these new circumstances.

Within the project, an innovative new geothermal heating and cooling system was designed to replace an old and inadequate heating system installed in the demonstration site Angel’s Gate in Ferrara. The new system is composed mainly of four co-axial geothermal heat exchangers and a geothermal hybrid dual source heat pump, which were already successfully developed and manufactured. The prototype of the heat pump, which will be installed at the site, is a dual source heat pump: geothermal and air, that allows to optimise the heat pump efficiency, alternating energy sources in series for summer and winter. The heat pump is actually undergoing tests in the internal laboratory of GALLETTI/HIREF and it is showing a great high temperature total power capacity for summer and winter respectively. The produced geothermal system will be installed this summer.