Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Power Hardware

Re-Purposing the Netherlands' Dike System For Power Generation 132

Posted by timothy
from the let's-go-dutch dept.
vikingpower writes "Built in reaction to a major flood that killed 1,800 in the '50s, the Dutch system of dikes, sluices, surge barriers, and dams has been dubbed 'one of the seven wonders of the modern world' by the American Society of Engineers. Now there are proposals to use the system differently, e.g. as tidal power plants, by punching holes in them. Any civil engineer's mouth will probably be watering when thinking of the mega-projects this could give rise to."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Re-Purposing the Netherlands' Dike System For Power Generation

Comments Filter:
  • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @04:21AM (#31965552) Homepage Journal
    This is a great idea! All of the dykes I know are very powerful women indeed! Genious!

    (Yeah, yeah, I know, bad taste, but c'mon someone had to go there.)
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Guess doing all those Kegel exercises has even more benefits than expected.

    • by bipbop (1144919)
      Well, no, they didn't. But did you really expect to be the only one? Seems like at least 80% of the replies.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 24, 2010 @04:41AM (#31965614)

    Salt water engineering is expensive and more bad jokes coming -
    extracting energy from dykes with a low head is inefficient.

    Get 10m or so height difference and it's all good, 1 or 2 m which is all this looks like holding is
    just an expensive world of pain. The energy needed for maintenance (corrosion/weed/lifeform clearing)
    will probably be more than is ever generated.

  • Great idea (Score:4, Funny)

    by rve (4436) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @04:47AM (#31965628)

    This is a great idea. Sure, it seems like a waste of all the resources and energy put into building those dikes and keeping that land dry, but the madness can't go on forever. Natural selection will eventually take care of a land based species that prefers to live below sea level.

    The Netherlands are the most environmentally unfriendly country in the world. Do you have any idea how much water the country displaces? And how much fossil fuel is burned to fuel the pumps needed to keep the sea from flowing back. Giving this country back to the sea would cancel out decades of sea level rise. It would also save the more than 80 gigaton oil equivalent per year in energy that country uses. Inundating the place and turning the entire country into an alternative energy source seems like a nice way to give something back to mother nature.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by arjan_t (1655161)

      The Netherlands are the most environmentally unfriendly country in the world.

      Yeah, all that cycling around instead of riding cars is really bad for the environment. And those windmills they historically used to keep the land (polders) dry... oh man, that really must have dealt some blows to the environment...

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The parent poster does have a point. The article itself even refers (quite vaguely) to the effects this system of dams, sluices, etc. is having on the environment. It's a severe disruption of how things *should* be, resulting in stagnating water, algae blooms, floods, and, in general, killing off the natural ecosystem inherent to lakes, seas and rivers.

      • by rve (4436)

        The world renowned Dutch sense of humour will ensure that once the sea reclaims the land, the former occupants will find a generous, warm welcome on dry land

      • by mpe (36238)
        And those windmills they historically used to keep the land (polders) dry

        Windmills which directly ran the pumps. No doubt there's going to be some joker to advise electric pumps driven by wind turbines...
    • We have found a more fun way to be higher than the rest of the world.
    • by Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @05:30AM (#31965760) Homepage
      Too little too late sir, I say we nuke Belgium to a depth of fifteen meters and fill that in instead.

      Who's with me?!

      More seriously though, how would this work, wouldn't they need to pump the water out afterwards, or are they hoping for tidal flow forces to do that for them?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        More seriously though, how would this work, wouldn't they need to pump the water out afterwards, or are they hoping for tidal flow forces to do that for them?

        As per TFA:

        A hole in the Brouwersdam, for example, would allow for tides as high as 50 centimetres. The opening would make an ideal site for a tidal power plant, which is also being considered by the committee.

        And this isn't exactly a new concept either, France has had one since 1966: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rance_Tidal_Power_Station
        To be fair though, there's a 13 meter tide there instead of a mere 50 centimetres.

        • by Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @05:55AM (#31965858) Homepage

          As per TFA:

          TFA? TFA?? This is SLASHDOT!!

          /kicks AC in the chest

          • GP: Our trollings will blot out discussion!
            P: Then we will post as a joke!
            Me: It that supposed to be English? /ducks

        • by HiThere (15173)

          50 centimeters? Ideal? Someone read a humor piece and took it seriously. Possibly because they didn't understand metric. 50 centimeters is about 18 inches. That's a truly silly thing to hook an electric generator to. And, apparently, that's only at high tide, so the duty cycle would be less than 50%. Lots less.

          The original *must* have been a humor piece.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ArsenneLupin (766289)

        Too little too late sir, I say we nuke Belgium to a depth of fifteen meters and fill that in instead.

        The article is about dykes, and you are calling for the Enola Gay?

    • Re:Great idea (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 24, 2010 @05:32AM (#31965768)

      Laugh, great suggestion. My apartment is in a building that's about 4m below sea level, so that means I'd be able to kayak to work directly from the lounge room. Awesome!

      Page 55 of the 2006 IEA "Key World Energy Statistics" shows that the per-capita energy use in the Netherlands is on different measures, somewhere between 0.5 and 0.75 of the USA's.

    • by houghi (78078)

      Fuel? They use windmills [freefoto.com] so that their wooden shoes [rwongphoto.com] don't get wet. Sure, in the Netherlands everybody walks around like this [panoramio.com].

      Well. Except the hookers and drug dealers, that is. So about 50%.

    • by stiller (451878)

      This. Is. Hilarious. Either you are very funny or very misinformed.
      To get back to the article, I scanned it but couldn't find anything on tidal power proposals. Only ecologically motivated changes on a local level.

    • Yes, let's do this! I'm sure the Dutch can repurpose their caravans as houseboats.
  • Can I watch? (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Google85 (797021)

    while they "generate power"?!

    It sounds like a good idea.. but might get really hot... how do they propose to cool that?

    • Simple my good man. In addition to the power generators, a complex system of air conditioners will be built along side to cool things down. These air conditioners of course cannot be run off of the power being generated as that would be a lose-lose situation. Instead, a new modern oil consuming power plant will be built in some nice open wetlands (I'm sure they have some that can be exploited) to power the new air conditioners. This will of course produce a bevy of new jobs most needed in the current ec

  • If we got hundreds of civil engineers together and told them about this, just think what we could power with their watering mouths!

    Oh I've set them off again...

  • Would you kindly look at a dictionary?

    dike: an embankment for controlling or holding back the sea

    dyke: disparaging term for a lesbian

    New low in ignorance and carelessness for Slashdot.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      For those of us that don't speak American there is no such word as dike - only dyke for both meanings.

    • Re:Dear Editor (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Paul Jakma (2677) <paul+slashdot@jakma.org> on Saturday April 24, 2010 @06:51AM (#31966008) Homepage Journal

      The word is dyke in dutch (well, more or less) and in its closest english speaking neighbour.

      Try learn about the rest of the world before making yourself sound like an myopic, "World Series" looking idiot.

      • That may well be so, but last time I checked, Slashdot was published in English. I don't resemble the World Series at all, though I do confess to being nearsighted.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Paul Jakma (2677)

          Are you really unaware that there are variants of english out there other than US english?

          • U.S. English is itself a variant. However, when in Rome, shoot Roman candles...

            I'm going to ignore the rest of this ridiculous exchange and go out to enjoy the beautiful day.

            • by Splab (574204)

              Really, so when you are in Denmark you turn to canibalism?

              Did you know most Irish don't know what Irish coffee is?

            • by JWSmythe (446288)

              That's a bold faced like. There's only one English, and it's the one our president authorizes. We took control of the the colonies and of the language named as "English" with our almost peaceful rebellion. At any rate, with a population of 61.8 million in the UK, and 307 million in the US, it's very clear that we now maintain the largest English speaking population so through our fine democratic process it will be obvious that since the majority of English speakers speak American English (

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Are you really unaware that there are variants of english out there other than US english?

            Are you really unaware that in US English, the language in which this website is published, dike means what you hold water back with, and dyke means lesbian? You say "The word is dyke in dutch" but we're not speaking Dutch here. You say "and in its closest english speaking neighbour." but Slashdot is an American creation and its readership is primarily American. Thus, this is an utter fail. Here's a hint for you: Typically, when you use a word from another language, we set it off in italics to denote the ch

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by dbIII (701233)
              It doesn't matter. After Reagan they stopped teaching US English in most places because Ebonics was cheaper :)
              Having arguments about spelling here is a waste of time propagated by those that think the ultimate in English language studies is a spelling bee and have never gotten as far as reading anything old enough to have this stupid spelling obsession beaten out of them. It's not their fault since it's due to education cutbacks and self-study is difficult without time and a decent library.
              Yes, it was a
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by mpe (36238)
              Are you really unaware that in US English, the language in which this website is published, dike means what you hold water back with, and dyke means lesbian?

              A better US Translation might be "levee"...
            • by Paul Jakma (2677)

              You're full of fail.

              The linked to article, from which the submitter (who may well not be USAsian) and hence presumably the editor took the spelling is from a *dutch* publisher. Further, the dutch were primarily taught GB english in the past, though younger generations of dutch seem to tend toward US english.

              This isn't about which variant of english should be used though. This is simply about the lack of *awareness* of the existence of other variants by USAsians.

              Finally, /. draws from news internationally an

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                The linked to article, from which the submitter (who may well not be USAsian)

                Congratulations, you've discovered an even more retarded way to refer to residents of Estados Unidos Norteamericanos than "Americans". You win TEH PRIZE!11!1!11!1ones!1!!

                and hence presumably the editor took the spelling is from a *dutch* publisher.

                But since it did not appear in quotation marks, it was not presented as a quotation, and thus it should have been edited to reflect the local language.

                Further, the dutch were primarily taught GB english in the past,

                Still irrelevant.

                though younger generations of dutch seem to tend toward US english.

                Also irrelevant.

                This isn't about which variant of english should be used though. This is simply about the lack of *awareness* of the existence of other variants

                You are such a tool. The average slashdot resident knows that there's other variants if for no reason other than that they've seen the en-GB locale go by duri

                • by JWSmythe (446288)

                  Estados Unidos Norteamericanos

                  You spelled that wrong. Since the (mostly) peaceful invasion was completed, it is now known as Los grandes Estados del Norte de México

            • by rve (4436)

              Actually, I think in Dutch it's probably something like waaterbonkenwaapenflaapen. This thread is a case of someone trying to elevate the UK English of TFA to a world standard.

              • The word you're looking for is dijk. Waaterbonkenwaapenflaapen means to thruwforliously watherdriggle. I think you're trying to elevate Dutch to the US standard :-)
          • And it has been "forked" multiple times. Spelling inconsistencies and semantic ambiguity are unavoidable. People speaking English outside their native countries need to be aware of this.

            I like to think of it as having a big set of #ifdef's in my head. Like code that runs on multiple platforms.

            When someone in an international arena says something that is unintentionally amusing, I check my #ifdef's. That usually clears everything up.

            One example off the top of my head: A British chick walks into a hote

            • by pjt33 (739471)

              A British chick walks into a hotel in the US, and asks the clerk, "Can you knock me up in the morning?"

              I don't think that's very likely: she'd ask for an alarm call. She'd be much more likely to cause consternation by popping out to smoke a fag.

        • by pjt33 (739471) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @08:19AM (#31966302)

          That may well be so, but last time I checked, Slashdot was published in English.

          Speaking as an Englishman, I suggest you check again.

      • The word is dyke in dutch
        cough * dijk * cough
        • by Paul Jakma (2677)

          I'm guessing you're not dutch, and hence you don't realise that dutch spelling (well, NL dutch) has gone through some changes over the last couple of hundred years. E.g. have a look at the NL wikipedia page on the lange ei [wikipedia.org]. Even if you can't speak dutch, the picture might be informative.

      • Trust me, I am dutch.

        Otherwise you are right.

        • by Paul Jakma (2677)

          En ik ook.

        • by Paul Jakma (2677)

          The reason for the "more or less" is that dycke, dyke and dyk (others?) have all been accepted spellings in dutch prior to the various overhauls and regularisation of spelling in nl_NL. Dutch readers will (should) be able to recognise such old spellings, no? :) Even modern dutch texts will sometimes fall back to old dutch, if trying to give a historic flavour.

          Yes, it's not the modern spelling in nl_NL. However, as we're talking about variants of languages, the net seems to suggest "dyk" is still common idio

      • I wasn't sure myself, so I decided to check it out:
        - According to the Meriam Webster Dyke is the British spelling of Dike: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dyke [merriam-webster.com] .
        - The Oxford Dictionary agrees: http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/dyke_1?view=uk [askoxford.com] , though the same spelling can also mean lesbian: http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/dyke_2?view=uk [askoxford.com]

        So, depending where you are either spelling will do.

      • You are the myopic one if you can't see that dykes are World Series looking. But I suppose you don't get much sun in the nether regions.
    • by jonadab (583620)
      Actually, dike/dyke is one of many English words with more than one accepted spelling. The spelling with the y has become less common in recent decades, but it has never passed entirely out of use, and there are still some people who consider it "more correct", though descriptive dictionaries generally disagree, as the spelling with the i has become more common.

      You can see this same phenomenon with doughnut/donut; modern descriptive dictionaries consider both to be correct, and "donut" has become the more
      • by mpe (36238)
        Actually, dike/dyke is one of many English words with more than one accepted spelling.

        Probably another of those things about spelling which Noah Webster (who appears to be responsible for quite a bit of the spelling differences between US English and just about any other English dialect) had issues with.

        You can see this same phenomenon with doughnut/donut; modern descriptive dictionaries consider both to be correct, and "donut" has become the more common spelling these days,

        Another explanation would b
        • by jonadab (583620)
          Display signs might be one reason why the shorter, simpler spelling 'donut' has become more common lately. There are other reasons as well, not least that it's easier to remember.

          Personally I prefer "toroidal continental-breakfast pastry", but for some strange reason I have not yet been able to convince the entire English-speaking world to switch over to this terminology.
  • I knew we had a dike system. But a dyke system sounds really interesting, how does it work?

  • by roman_mir (125474)

    So some 'civil' engineers think that dykes can generate all that power?

    Maybe the same should be suggested to the mayor of Toronto, imagine all the power they could generate there during a pride week!

  • by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Saturday April 24, 2010 @08:00AM (#31966232) Journal

    Some years ago, I saw a news item on a proposal to flood the sahara by digging a canal through Libya, and powering pretty much all of North Africa and Southern Europe with electricity generated by turbines in the canals. As I recall, it was supposed to drop the world sea level by about a foot or so.

    -jcr

    • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @11:39AM (#31967330)

      The Earth has 361,132,000 km^2 of water.
      The Sahara is over 9,000,000 km^2

      So, if we want to drop the sea level by a foot, we need to siphon off 110,073.034 km^3. To do that, we need to lower the entire Sahara to 12.2 meters below sea level. Probably 12.5 meters to get the sea to fall that extra foot.

      Good idea, but where exactly are we going to put those 110,000 km^3 of material? We can't dump it into the ocean for obvious reasons. Also, those 110,000 km^3 are just the stuff you need do dig away, once we've made the entire Sahara flat and given it a height of 0 meters.

      Every meter of average height of the desert, adds another 9,000 km^3 of material to haul away.

      To put that into perspective - if we build an equilateral square pyramid with a volume of 110,000 km^3, its surface area would be 77 km on each side (6,016 km^2) and would be 54,848 meters tall.

      Sure, it might lower the sea level by a foot, and it would certainly keep a lot people employed for the foreseeable future, and I suppose a 54,848 meter tall pyramid on the equator would make for a great launch pad into space ... but at the same time I don't see that any government or company would ever want to sponsor this kind of project.

      Oh, and just for kicks. Suppose we only wanted to move this mountain of material one meter. How much energy would be required? Assuming that instead of a mix of sand and bed rock it's actually water, we now have to move 1.1 × 10^17 kg 1 meter. This works out as 1.08 exa-joules. In 2008 the entire world used 474 exa joules. Even if we used all the the energy avaialble to us in 2008, we could only move this mass less than half a kilometer.

      So ... in theory it might be possible to do this, but it's also theoretically possible to dig a tunnel all the way through the Earth. But the practicalities of both of these ideas are quite bitchy.

      • Don't worry - I'll have that pyramid built as my burial ground after I finally declare myself Eternal God-Emperor of the World, the Universe and All The Rest. Shorter sides and higher, though. And what's with that bitchin' about the energy? Prepare for the whip, suckers!
    • by demonlapin (527802) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @03:13PM (#31968622) Homepage Journal
      I think what you heard of was the Qattara Depression [wikipedia.org], where hydro proposals depend on evaporation to move the water away.
  • in order for them to fill and drain every tide cycle...
  • ...Vikingpower means the 850s. There was major construction in the 1950s but development started over 1100 years ago and there has been a continous line since about 1250.

  • Tidal power plants are not new. See La Rance in France, an old project that stayed experimental because of numerous problems.

    Basically, you get a very low efficiency because you have to generate power with low-pressure water due tu a small height difference; Also, salt water is not easy on turbines. This means you have a sizable investment and high maintenance costs that have to be amortized on a pitiful amount of power. A bad idea.

    This is a bounty for whoever sold this pie-in-the-sky idea to the Dutch. Fo

    • by NNKK (218503)

      Also, salt water is not easy on turbines.

      Has anyone considered using something other than metal, then? Or coating the metal turbine in some other material? The coating wouldn't even have to last the life of the turbine, just long enough to extend the life of the turbine to an economical length.

      Better yet, maybe someone could come up with a design other than a classical turbine. The fact that you can't get good results by using existing designs in new situations isn't particularly interesting. If X doesn't work in situation Y, invent something that

      • Believe me, the next guy who invents a better turbine is going to make a name for himself. It's not like nobody is looking for improvements. It's just that the physics is tough.

        You can look online for "ceramic turbine" and "diamond coating" to get an idea of the current state of material science.

      • Look, using non-metallic parts/coating may work. But seriously, I think some people are overblowing the difficulty of salt water turbines. I mean, most ships today are turbine powered... it's basically a floating turbine generator backwards. It's an added design constraint, but it's a solvable (and largely solved) problem I would think. I mean, the Bay of Fundy already has a barrage style tidal plant operating. And the Atlantic on our side is more or less as salty as the Atlantic on the other side.

        The bigge
  • I was thinking about flooding some Dutch Dykes when someone corrected the spelling in the article's title.

    DANG!!

  • I'm sorry, we were barely able to complete the Chunnel project recently. I can't believe that Netherlands can manage public opinion better than in the US - which means that when people find out what a "megaproject" really means they will shut it down.

    You see, it is a pretty well known fact that large engineering projects end up costing lives. You can pretty much talk to anyone with experence and they can give you a figure of how many people are going to die. For example, 1 death per mile of tunnel is pret

    • by ambrosen (176977)

      But the Delta Works are already a mega-engineering project. And the Channel Tunnel (which is the name it's always known by, save in tabloid newspapers and Wikipedia) is an engineering success, just not a financial one.

  • I think seeing as they are already adding a system into the dam for generating power, they could also add a filtration system and keep some of the massive amounts of water and bottle it for bottled water....seems like it might be goo enough to drink after being treated (look a haiti...) and to let all that water go to waste down the river seems like you could kill 2 birds with one stone ....or at least give them something to drink

  • There is no ASE (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    There is no American Society of Engineers.

    Obama made them up to put words in their mouths.

    There are many American societies of engineers, but none of them is named "American Society of Engineers."

"Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberrys!" -- Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Working...