Hydropower “Battery” Could Even Out Wind Energy Supply

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Norwegian hydropower stations could be linked to wind farms and serve as giant “batteries” to even out power supply fluctuations, a Scandinavian research organization says.

A major hurdle for renewable energy suppliers is intermittent power production — sometimes too much power is generated, other times too little, and periods of peak demand often don’t coincide with periods of peak supply.

By using excess electricity from windy periods to pump water uphill into reservoirs, hydroelectric power stations could smooth out the intermittent power supplied by large wind farms, Scandinavian researchers from the firm SINTEF say.

At times of low wind energy supply, the stored water could be released through dam turbines and hydroelectricity would fill the gap. The plan requires updating and refurbishing existing Norwegian hydropower plants, which could increase their output potential by 11 to 18 gigawatts, enough to provide an adequate backup power supply. Wind energy will be a key component of cutting EU carbon emissions by 80 to 95 percent by 2050.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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5 Comments

  1. The Pumped Storage Plants are conected anyway to the grid.So they are enabled to store and give back every sort of infeeded excess energy – also naturally windpower too – and solar – and night excess from regulary powerplants.

    What is new with this idea ??

  2. The Pumped Storage Plants are conected anyway to the grid.So they are enabled to store and give back every sort of infeeded excess energy – also naturally windpower too – and solar – and night excess from regulary powerplants.

    What is new with this idea ??

    A new idea would be to realize the Solid Block- Storage what replaces the uphill moved water by lifting a very great rock cylindre by means of water pressure – a much more hevy material than water.

    So you need less volume to store the same enery at same hight.

    You do not need a significant hight difference

    The investment per MWh is as low as 20% of a conventional Pumped Storage Plant.

    It can be placed at much more sites than those.

  3. It is an excellent idea to link hydro-power stations with wind farms to smooth out the grid. Perhaps even tidal power could be linked with other renewable sources. In effect, it means efficient linking of various power sources including solar farms to other sources of power. Even the excess power, if any, generated by the much maligned fossil fueled power stations and nuclear power stations could be similarly be used to pump back water into the dams and thus create back-ups.

  4. To all,

    For a half century or so the NY area has been fed Niagara River/Falls pumped water hydro electrical power. Water gets pumped into the Niagara Frontier Reservoir at low usage times and is allowed to flow down to the turbines at peak power draw times. Works great.

    There is also a much smaller pump water up to the top of the hill reservoir in Missouri. Works fine too.

    This is an OK energy storage methodology. Keep thinking these good thoughts for RE.

    Ron Barrett, Chief Engineer American Solar Wind Energy LLC

  5. Robert Paynter on

    The idea that this is a new requirement because of the development of renewable energy sources is completely bogus.

    The big intermittency problem is the consumer, with events like the halftime during the Super Bowl causing sudden demand – refrigerators open and kettles turn on – these are much more problematic than say: the inevitable coming of sunset and PV panels reducing output or, the end of a windy period forecast 5 days ahead.

    The anti-renewable lobby often use the intermittency line to argue that renewable power has is not “firm” and requires back-up or long term storage – don’t fall into that logical hole – remember that no source is absolutely “firm”, modern electricity power systems constantly operate with reserve in case one of the biggest generator units fails – when they do it’s usually with practically no warning.

    Storage systems have been running for several decades and the economic strategy is based on the difference between high price for selling during high demand and buying at low price during low demand; a pure economic gamble for a daring investor – not a supposed cost penalty to be put at the door of renewables.

    Occasionally a new technology will come along – look out for:

    - Regenesys Flow batteries which hit the scene about 15 years ago

    - Hydrogen reversible fuel cell / electrolysis [*]

    - Compressed air, particularly when coupled with a thermal store

    - … several more

    The key economic problem is that high cost plant ends up being used for very short time intervals; the worst is when you need different systems for each direction of energy flow. The advantage of modern times is that there is plenty of data available (at a moderate price) so that the good feasibility studies can be done.

    Overall I think that if a storage is going to be feasible within a utility power system then it will be already due to consumer intermittency and irrespective of future renewable installations.

    * RJH Paynter et al. 1991 “The potential of hydrogen and electricity production from wind power.”

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