The German wind firm Max Boegl Wind AG approached GE Renewable Energy to collaborate on the project, which is theoretically set to be the first wind project with an integrated hydropower plant. The aim of the project is to use the hydropower plant as a stop-gap measure to continue generating electricity when the wind stops blowing.
Aiming for grid-connection by the end of 2017, and with the hydropower plant set to begin operation by the end of 2018, the project could be a significant step forward for the wind industry. In addition, the wind turbines GE are installing will be the world’s tallest, measuring 584 feet high, with the bottom 131 feet of the turbine acting as a water reservoir, able to hold 1.6 million gallons of water. The turbine itself will sit on another reservoir capable of holding an addition 9 million gallons of water.
Innovative wind energy company Max Boegl Wind AG is partnering with GE to build a four-turbine pilot wind farm with integrated hydropower plant.
The principal is simple, as can be seen above: When the wind is blowing, the wind turbines will generate electricity. If the wind stops blowing, the hydropower kicks in, allowing the water to travel downhill to generate electricity. When the hydropower plant’s energy supply is high, it will pump the water back up the hill to the reservoirs, acting as a giant liquidy-battery.
Obviously, as can be seen below, there are specific geographical needs for the project to work: The wind turbines must sit atop a hill, and there must be room in the valley below for a man-made lake that can store the water when not in use up-hill.
The idea of pairing renewable energy technologies like wind with a hydropower battery is not new, but this might be the first instance of this particular pairing reaching operation. It surely won’t be the last, however.