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Any office or apartment building with an underground parking garage is sitting on an untapped source of clean energy. Swiss startup Enerdrape aims to unlock that potential with modular, plug-and-play panels that capture underground heat to be used overhead.
Applying existing geothermal heating and cooling technology, Enerdrape panels collect warmth from the surrounding earth and from residual warmth created by cars. By connecting to a heat pump, that thermal energy is transferred to the building above. On hot days, warmth is circulated back into the earth to provide low-energy cooling. Unlike full-scale geothermal heating solutions, Enerdrape is prefabricated and easy to install, and designed to have minimal impact on a building's structure.
A spin-off from the Swiss Institute of Technology of Lausanne (EPFL), Enerdrape is currently testing its panels in an apartment building in Lausanne to prepare for market entry. While the company is initially focusing on parking garages, its technology could also be applied to underground rail and subway lines and stations.
Nearly half of Switzerland's energy use is consumed for heating and cooling, and 78% of that energy still comes from non-renewable sources.
For the world to transition away from fossil fuels, we'll need to tap into every possible source of clean energy. For building owners and operators, on-site renewables like Enerdrape are an attractive selling point, appealing both to occupants aiming to lower their carbon footprint, and those worried about rising energy costs.
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