Right now when you think of panels collecting energy, you would probably think of solar panels or those black panels that heat water, but if you already filled your roof with solar panels, what do you do next? This is one of the most ingenious startups I have seen in a while, a reminder that out of the box thinking can lead to completely new solutions to problems that don’t require millions of dollars in R&D.
Enerdrape is the name of the Swiss-based startup behind this ingenious idea. It all starts with a simple question: Have you ever noticed that it gets kind of warm in an underground garage or down in a metro or subway tunnel? That is basically geothermal energy. That is energy that can be absorbed and then diverted to another part of the building.
This startup’s idea is to place heat absorbing panels in underground parking lots and underground subway and metro tunnels. Place panels on all the walls that can absorb it and you can use that energy to either heat, or if used in reverse, to passively cool a building. One of these panels could potentially produce up to 250 kwh of energy in the form of heat, and each panel only costs a mere €150. The technology can reduce emissions of a building by up to 85% per KWh.
This isn’t just some kind of lab experiment either, as Enerdrape plans to have its first pilot project by the end of next year. In the image below you see what its early prototype looks like, as well as Enerdrape’s founder and CEO Margaux Peltier.
Think about it, there are 14 million parking lots in Europe alone. Right now there is pretty much no simple alternative to gas that doesn’t emit any greenhouse gases. To be fair, there are some solutions to heat homes without gas that work great in places like California, but they don’t really work in places with cold winters, and this might be the missing link towards making it possible for some structures, as the potential of this technology is enormous.
While the original capital investment is higher than when using natural gas, it is much lower than other alternative renewable solutions. Because this technology significantly lowers operating costs, the total price is cheaper than natural gas in the long run.
While its not part of its presentation, I think that when combined with the Boring Company Tunnels this product could be even more effective. Think of it, Elon Musk wants to put many levels of tunnels underground. If all the heat in those tunnels is used to warm buildings above, the savings could be enormous.