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Earth Power Technology

Belgium Plans Artificial Island To Store Wind Power 242

Posted by samzenpus
from the island-of-lost-watts dept.
bmcage writes "Belgium wants to build an artificial energy storage island within 5 years. The island will store excess energy produced at night from the offshore wind farms already present in the North-Sea. From the article: 'Belgium is planning to build a doughnut-shaped island in the North Sea that will store wind energy by pumping water out of a hollow in the middle, as it looks for ways to lessen its reliance on nuclear power. One of the biggest problems with electricity is that it is difficult to store and the issue is exaggerated in the case of renewable energy from wind or sun because it is intermittent depending on the weather. "We have a lot of energy from the wind mills and sometimes it just gets lost because there isn't enough demand for the electricity," said a spokeswoman for Belgium's North Sea minister Johan Vande Lanotte.'"
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Belgium Plans Artificial Island To Store Wind Power

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  • It’s a good idea. I do wonder how the harsh north sea tides will affect it though. And as power storage goes, it's the safest way to store it... also the most tasty.

  • by dr.Flake (601029) on Friday January 18, 2013 @06:45AM (#42624247)

    First, i'm Dutch, the northern neighbor of the Belgians, and we like to make jokes of each other.

    But why make an island first? One could also transport the energy on shore and do the same trick with an old abandoned mining network for instance. Sounds like the upfront costs are going to be huge.
    Also, the North Sea is the most busy shipping route on the planet. Do we really need an extra island in it?

    • by Tx (96709) on Friday January 18, 2013 @06:59AM (#42624295) Journal

      While your questions have some merit, I find it strange that with announcements like this, people always seem to assume that no thought or planning has gone into it whatsoever. Without any specific knowledge on the subject, I find it pretty likely that the answers to your questions are

      a) No suitable onshore site exists. Abandoned mines have a risk of contamination if there is a leak, and would be too expensive to make safe.
      b) Cost-benefit analysis has been done and favoured the island over other options. Storing large amounts of electricity is a very expensive business.
      c) Island to be built in coastal waters outside any shipping lanes.

      Of course, I could be wrong...

      • by Alarash (746254)
        Sometimes "cost analysis" and "government" don't go well together. Not to mention the possibility of lobbies pushing for the more expensive solution.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          As a US DoD acquisitions type ... we do "cost analysis" ... The problem is that we're using cost estimates made by analogy, handcuffed by regulations and instructions that add an order of magnitude to cost and complexity of all projects, working with contractors who are so bad at business that they can only get government contracts.

          • by myowntrueself (607117) on Friday January 18, 2013 @07:58AM (#42624507)

            As a US DoD acquisitions type ... we do "cost analysis" ... The problem is that we're using cost estimates made by analogy, handcuffed by regulations and instructions that add an order of magnitude to cost and complexity of all projects, working with contractors who are so bad at business that they can only get government contracts.

            Does anyone ever do an analysis of the costs of doing a cost analysis?

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by ai4px (1244212)

              Does anyone ever do an analysis of the costs of doing a cost analysis?

              Amen brother! They've been doing an environmental impact study for years to consider deepening the Charleston SC harbor channel by something like 2 meters. They've spent MILLIONS on the study and more time than it would have taken to have simply deepened the channel.

              • by nedlohs (1335013) on Friday January 18, 2013 @11:25AM (#42625643)

                An environmental impact study isn't a cost analysis so that's irrelevant. They aren't trying to determine the most cost effective method of doing something (in which case spending more on the determining that then a particular method would cost is really stupid), they are trying to determine if they'll screw anything up by doing the work.

                You can think it's a silly to do and that there's no need to care what the environmental impact is, or that any impact will worth the benefits, or whatever. But the time and cost compared to the time and cost to do the work isn't an argument for that.

            • by usuallylost (2468686) on Friday January 18, 2013 @10:18AM (#42625151)

              Does anyone ever do an analysis of the costs of doing a cost analysis?

              This is modded funny but we, in the US, should really be asking this question. Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) is so unwieldy and requires so much man power and bureaucracy that I would not be at all surprised to find that it sometimes doubles the cost of things the US government buys.

        • People constantly trash the government because it is the cool thing to do, but really, what do you know at how well the government operates compared to a fortune 500? Nothing? I used to work for both, and can say firsthand that there is plenty of institutional madness to go around.
      • by ledow (319597) on Friday January 18, 2013 @07:26AM (#42624393) Homepage

        d) The guy who owns the company that would be contracted to do it is the golf-buddy of the guy who makes the decision.

        Unfortunately, that particular link I have witnessed on scales from the education secretary down to local headteachers in everything from primary schools to academies (privatised schools that break the rules that state schools aren't allowed to break, and get private "sponsorship" which allows them to sign exclusive, long-term contracts with manufacturers owned by the guy from the same army regiment as the "superhead" appointed by a parliamentary Lord to run the academy).

        The councillor in charge of waste management in my local London borough "just happens" to own the independent waste management company that they contract out all their services to. It's declared on something called the "Register of Interests" but I can't help feeling that that's a conflict of interest whether you state it or not.

        It's really that common in politics and the only question is whether you can prove it or not. I've worked in places where it was literally so bad, we used to Google the directors of the company of any van that pulled into the car park. Glaziers, carpet-fitters, electricians, IT cabling guys, you name it, we managed to find direct links back to those people authorised the contracts (and, in some cases, they directly profited from the companies that were employed to do those contracts - but it was all "okay" because they declared their interests in some obscure paperwork that was almost impossible to find).

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        While your questions have some merit, I find it strange that with announcements like this, people always seem to assume that no thought or planning has gone into it whatsoever. Without any specific knowledge on the subject...

        Allow me to stop you there and say, you must be new here. It's a proven fact that /. is populated by the best of the best. Everyone who's anyone here are combination lawyers, sociologists, engineers, mathematicians, physicists, nuclear scientists, astronauts, psychologists, secret agents, trashmen, and consultants.

        Oh, and some of us even have girlfriends.

        • by lysdexia (897)

          Oh, and some of us even have girlfriends.

          You had me right until the end. Well played!

        • by rve (4436)

          secret agents, trashmen

          Yup, that's me. Secret trash agent. Three times winner of the mister dumpster competition.

      • by Amouth (879122)

        so while i don't have experiences in storing wind energy at sea or building islands. something that stands out to me as the same solution but i would think would be much cheaper and quicker. Do it the same way the oil platforms do it.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spar_(platform) [wikipedia.org]

        the nice large vertical cylinder is used to store the oil until a tanker comes and then it pumps into the tanker, then it moves to a new well and refills the tank.

        Using the same basic design, you would not need nearly the same buil

        • A structure large enough to store a sufficient amount of water is very expensive.
          Dinorwig in the UK uses 60 m^3 of water per second dropping from 500 m altitude to produce 1800 MW. This would empty an oil platform tank in an hour. Less in the North Sea, because it's only 50 m deep on average so you don't get as much potential energy stored in the water.
          Dinorwig's reservoir is 6.7 million m^3.

        • by rve (4436)

          for shallow waters the oil companies use the same design but rather build a concrete cylinder that is connected to bedrock, (...)this seems a simpler solution then trying to build a sand island.

          There is a small flaw in your plan, as far as it applies to that part of the world. The bedrock is hundreds of meters down below the sediment. Building a sand island just means using the materials at hand, rather than having to ship them in from scandinavia. Dredging sand is a relatively easy and cheap method for building structures off the coast, and there is ample experience with this.

    • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Friday January 18, 2013 @07:07AM (#42624327) Journal
      This is similar to Plan Lievense [wikipedia.org] (translation [google.nl]), a 30 year old idea. The original plan did call for storage on land, by pumping water into a reservoir. Only problem is that a breach of the reservoir had the potential of creating a massvice flood.

      As for room on the North Sea, there are already plans for wind farms to be built there. Since ships have to steer well clear of these, you could build this reservoir in the middle of it.
    • by DeathToBill (601486) on Friday January 18, 2013 @07:40AM (#42624431) Journal

      The economics of this are quite complex. So long as the stored energy is insignificant relative to the market, it's quite attractive. Buying energy when there's an excess also means buying when it's cheap. Selling in a shortage means selling when the price is high. In other words, a classic market arbitrage situation.

      But as storage becomes larger, of course it starts to feed back into market prices and smooths out the highs and lows of the market. Eventually it should settle to a point where the cost of storage equates to the average difference between buy and sell price, but what that cost might be I don't think anyone knows yet.

      • by mangu (126918) on Friday January 18, 2013 @08:11AM (#42624537)

        The scheme is not as much about price arbitrage as about smoothing demand.

        There's more demand for energy during the evenings than during the mornings, and price differences will never be able to eliminate that. No one will turn off their lights in the evening to turn them on during the morning, no matter what the prices are.

        The effect of energy storage are to allow a steady supply, like wind, to be used when it's most needed. Storage would be even more important if solar energy is used, for obvious reasons.

    • by Basje (26968)

      The idea isn't new: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plan_Lievense [wikipedia.org] (Dutch only, I'm afraid)

      The Belges lack the geology to implement this without an artificial island.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 18, 2013 @07:48AM (#42624471)

      First, i'm Dutch, the northern neighbor of the Belgians, and we like to make jokes of each other.

      But why make an island first?

      Or they could used the Netherlands, as far as I remember most of it is below sea-level anyway :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by arnodf (1310501)

      1. there are no mines near the coast. Who would mine sand since that's all there is?
      2. transportation from the sea to the coast would be incredibly expensive because you need to build pipelines, several pumps (as compared to only a few to pump it from the sea into the doughnut). We have (this will sound chauvinistic but I'm allowing my self to do so in this case) the best dredging companies in the world (Jan de Nul and Deme).
      3. It's 3km off the coast... that's nothing. The shipping lanes are way out into th

    • by polar red (215081)

      But why make an island first? One could also transport the energy on shor.

      space. There is no room on the shore (or anywhere else in belgium).

    • by mrvan (973822) on Friday January 18, 2013 @09:02AM (#42624693)

      "We" made a similar island for storing contaminated sludge in a part of the IJsselmeer. This reservoir island is 1km across (so slightly smaller but same order of magnitude) and 45m deep.

      Some links: google maps [goo.gl], Dutch wiki [wikipedia.org], google translated Dutch wiki [google.nl].

      According to this page [waddenzee.nl], this island cost around 250 million to build. At 1 km across and 45m deep, it can hold around 35E6 sq meters of water=3.5E10 kgs of water. No idea whether it works that way, but the potential energy might be m*g*h=3.5E10 * 9.81 * 22 (avg.) ~ 7E12 joules, or the output of a 3500MW power plant for 7E12/3.5E9 2000 seconds or about half an hour, assuming 100% efficiency and no fuckups in my orders of magnitude.

      I'm assuming it is easier to build this in the ocean than to dig it in a shallow lake (the lake around the reservoir is about 2.5m deep), because otherwise why not just dig it in the shallow lake? Since the north sea is about 50m deep [uni-kassel.de] offshore from the low countries, a reservoir of 3km accross wil hold 9 times as much energy, or around 5 hours of output from one plant. Whether that is enough or not I have no idea. I would suppose that the cost could be around 9*250 million = 2.5 billion euro, which is cheaper than building a new plant but nothing to sneeze at.

    • chalk this one up as cheap publicity for the politician. I AM Belgian, and right now the vast majority of electricity comes from Nuclear. We simply do not have enough wind power yet to justify such an investment. Note that Belgium is a world leader in dredging (we did the dubai artificial islands), and that the biggest dredging company is in the politicians constituency.
      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        TFA article mentions that you are aiming for 2.3GW from wind, compared to the 3GW you get from nuclear. Seems like it would make a pretty big dent. Those nuclear plants will need replacing eventually anyway.

    • by rve (4436)

      First, i'm Dutch, the northern neighbor of the Belgians, and we like to make jokes of each other.

      This is a misunderstanding. The Dutch may like to joke about Belgians, but don't really mean it. Belgians are deadly serious when they call the Dutch nasty, greedy, unreliable, uncultured, rude and stupid. There is no joking involved.

    • I saw something like this 3 years ago. The idea was to pump air into a large cave for storage. The air pressure would power the electric turbines on demand. They figured it was overall more efficient for the wind turbines to run mechanical pumps rather than generate electricity to run the air pumps.

      Not sure how closely this applies

  • by Sqr(twg) (2126054) on Friday January 18, 2013 @06:48AM (#42624253)

    You can't have wind power on any serious scale without storage. Storage built off-shore - near the wind-farm - also lessens the load on the link to the mainland.

    Only question is: Will the polulation accept the high price, or will they prefer to import cheaper nuclear energy from France?

    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      "Only question is: Will the polulation accept the high price, or will they prefer to import cheaper nuclear energy from France?"

      Cheaper? They give away this power for free if there's a surplus as Germany did during the holidays. It even paid some companies to take the energy. Because of how the subventions work, the power company has to pay the turbine owners for the power and are forced to accept and pay for it.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      The price will be lower. Up front cost of wind compares reasonably with nuclear, not sure about this storage system because it is so new. The on-going costs are tiny though, and the lifetime of the wind farm is essentially unlimited as it can be maintained indefinitely. Once you take account of subsidies and lifetime cost wind is already comparable or cheaper than nuclear in most places.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 18, 2013 @06:57AM (#42624283)

    Translated short article [google.be] with conceptual drawing

  • by some old guy (674482) on Friday January 18, 2013 @07:03AM (#42624307)

    Weather and sunlight are not, and cannot be, intermittent. They can be variable and cyclical, but not intermittent. There is always weather, and the sun does not shut down at sunset.

    The engineer in me wonders what happens when an extended period of calm, cloudy weather fails to yield enough surplus energy to pump up their doughnut.

    Perhaps they should consult the experts at Krispy Kreme.

    Or redesign it as a Belgian waffle?

    Now I'm sorry I missed breakfast.

    • by jamesh (87723)

      There is always weather

      You're right. There was some weather today, not much yesterday, and I think not much tomorrow, but i've never seen a weather forecast of "none". There are times when there is very little weather though, and times when there is a lot.

    • by Sepodati (746220)

      The sunlight reaching the solar panels is intermittent based on the types of weather. The TYPES of weather we receive are intermittent, also.

  • Once again we have a green/renewable energy plan that comes without a price tag. This stuff isn't free -- in fact it's pretty expensive. If people knew how expensive they'd, be more cautious about building.

    • Re:Cost? Price? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by foniksonik (573572) on Friday January 18, 2013 @09:56AM (#42624961) Homepage Journal

      Fossil fuel infrastructure costs just as much to build as does nuclear. This will just take longer to return the investment in terms of power that is paid for. Without value applied to pollution, cost of waste products, etc we can't measure the savings from using a non-polluting system (exclusive of the pollution costs to build it). If we did the return on investment could be seen as much higher than investment in other energy generation systems.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      What's the cost of the hostage situation in Algeria? You know, at the BP plant? And who is paying? For once the Wall Street Journal [wsj.com] article does not delve into the economics at all.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    After being named "the emperor of Ostend" Vande Lanotte needs to clean up his public image.
    Accusations of various conflicts of interest exist on the guy.
    A broader approval of this project is needed.
    He better makes sure this is a viable project and not a "prestige project" like some of the Dubai venture of the same companies proposing this.
    A similar approached is used with fresh water in Germany, unfortunately salt water is a lot more aggressive.
    Furtunately Belpex gives some verifyable data:
    http://belpex.be/

  • by De Lemming (227104) on Friday January 18, 2013 @07:13AM (#42624347) Homepage

    Here is an article in Dutch [deredactie.be] which includes a rendering of the island.

    The capacity would be 300 MW, equivalent to a standard gas power station. It could provide electricity for 3 hours a day. This would be sufficient to intercept peak usage during morning and evening hours (1.5 hours each).

    One of the contractors would be the Belgian dredging company which also worked on the Palm Islands [wikipedia.org] in the United Arab Emirates. Building of the island would take around 2 years. Price: around 800 million euros.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by FreeTherapy (2768701)
      In the daytime, there is a lack of energy in Belgium and energy needs to be imported from neighbor countries. Most of the energy in Belgium is used for (fully automated) industrial processes. Wouldn't it be more cost effective to just make certain industries only run at night, when there is too much energy? This could be made an attractive option if nighttime energy prices are low enough. Also, 800 million euros is fucking insane! I estimate (too lazy to check facts and cite sources) investing that mone
      • by nojayuk (567177) on Friday January 18, 2013 @08:41AM (#42624629)

        Quite a few energy-hungry industries already use cheap night-time baseload electricity -- iron and steel foundries for example often do melts during the night and pour and cast during the day.

        As for the projected cost of 800 million Eu, that's about the regular price for pumped storage. Dinorwig and Cruachan in the UK cost about the same, roughly $200 million per GWhr of storage in today's money. Storage generally is expensive; pumped storage is cheap compared to batteries (about $1.5 billion per GWhr), capacitor banks, flywheels etc. It would be more productive to build a nuclear baseload generator station (500,000 GWhr of generation @1.5GW over a 60-year lifespan for about $20 billion construction and lifetime operating costs) but that's not too likely due to nuclear being scary.

        • by foniksonik (573572) on Friday January 18, 2013 @10:04AM (#42625023) Homepage Journal

          Hmmm 800M euro and a working system in 2 years with no failure mode vs some 10's of Billions and a 5+ year wait with a disaster level failure mode. Both will last at least 25 years. One has very low maintenance costs while the other has extremely regulated, hence expensive maintenance costs.

          Let me tally up a few figures on a napkin back here... Okay, you're right Nuclear, wait miscarried the 1. Nope, gravity wins!!!! Yes gravity is the more efficient force to harness in this scenario.

          • by nojayuk (567177)

            Amount of electricity created from fuel/wind/wave/solar/hamsters by proposed Belgian pumped storage system, zero. Amount of electricity wasted in operational losses by Belgian pumped storage system, 30%. Cost (estimated), 800 million Eu (about $1 billion US).

            Nuclear generation costs about $30,000 per GWhr for fuel, waste disposal, operation, staffing etc. A modern 1.5GW reactor will cost about $5-10 billion for construction (the Chinese EPRs at Taishan are coming in at less than $5 billion, the Finnish an

            • That 30% loss you refer could rather be viewed as a 70% gain. We're talking about storing energy that would otherwise be lost completely (thrown away due to lack of storage).

              The numbers presented can be taken as incremental energy newly available. Net gain.

              Run your figures again.

        • by discord5 (798235)

          It would be more productive to build a nuclear baseload generator station

          Nuclear simply isn't an option in Belgium at the moment. After Fukushima the usual scaremongering got far far worse, which isn't to say that some of the criticisms are valid, but the scaremongering extends into the realm of the unscientific at times. Of course the nuclear industry has been running save-face ad campaigns, but the power company exploiting the nuclear power plants has come under fire by the press for making record profits while refusing to pay the rather new nuclear tax. To add to that, after

      • by sturle (1165695)

        1 GW extra wind power capacity will only work when the wind blows. When you are in the middle of a low pressure, you don't have any wind, but you just had a lot of it, and you are going to get a lot of it in a few hours. That's why you need storage with wind power. Just adding extra wind power will not solve the problem.

        When it's windy in countries with a lot of wind power, the price of power will go below 0. This happened several times in Denmark last year. (Check http://nordpoolspot.com/ [nordpoolspot.com] for real tim

      • by GauteL (29207)

        As someone else have pointed out, this already happens where feasible. But what happens if you have a factory which operates 24/7 with almost everyone being shift workers?

        If it was to operate 8 hours per day only, it would need three times the production capacity in order to complete in 8 hours what it normally does in 24. This would mean a massive, costly and inefficient expansion in terms of area and equipment. Equipment which would just sit idle for 16 hours a day.

        Also, your shift workers who now may do

  • Tidal (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lobiusmoop (305328) on Friday January 18, 2013 @07:21AM (#42624365) Homepage

    If they're going to this much effort to store/release coastal water, wouldn't it be easier to just rely on the daily tides instead? No wind turbines required.

    • The point of this scheme is not the generation of electricity, but to enable better matching between demand and supply (peak shaving). A pumped storage station can store excess generated power and then supply a variable amount of power on short notice, something that's difficult to do with other power generation options.

  • AKA pumped storage (Score:5, Interesting)

    by david.given (6740) <dg AT cowlark DOT com> on Friday January 18, 2013 @07:21AM (#42624369) Homepage Journal

    This is a very old idea, although most countries don't need to build artificial islands to do it. For example, the Ben Cruachan [wikipedia.org] pumped storage plant in Scotland uses two lochs at different levels. Energy is stored by pumping water from the low one to the high one.

    Pumped storage power stations are typically used for short-term handling of power spikes; if you get sudden load on the electricity network, you can spin up a pumped storage plant in minutes --- sometimes seconds if you know that a spike is due and can prepare --- while traditional oil, coal and nuclear can take hours. So the pumped storage plant handles the load while the big power stations rev up.

    Drawbacks involve not being very efficient ---Wikipedia says 70-80% [wikipedia.org] --- and they don't store that much energy. Ben Cruachan, for example, can only generate 440MW for 22 hours before running dry. They're also environmentally rather poor (although not nearly as bad as the alternatives, which are usually fast-start gas turbines, of course).

    Using an artificial island is an interesting idea. If you're using off-shore wind farms then the power generation is local and you save on infrastructure and transmission costs; you avoid destroying valuable mountainside (although at the expense of destroying valuable sea bottom); it's close to the coastal cities which would be using the power... does anyone have a link to more technical information? Like how big it is? The linked article is almost entirely content-free.

    • by Thorodin (1999352) on Friday January 18, 2013 @07:32AM (#42624413)
      I remember as a kid, Consumer's Power and Detroit Edison built the Ludington Pumped Storage facility which can generate quite a bit of power: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludington_Pumped_Storage_Power_Plant [wikipedia.org]
    • by LourensV (856614)

      Using an artificial island is an interesting idea. If you're using off-shore wind farms then the power generation is local and you save on infrastructure and transmission costs; you avoid destroying valuable mountainside (although at the expense of destroying valuable sea bottom).

      Nothing to destroy there, the North Sea is pretty much an industrial wasteland. Fish populations were decimated long ago, all that's left is oil drilling rigs, shipping lanes, pipelines and wind farms. So an artificial island more or less is not going to be a problem in that respect, and the Low Countries don't have a lot of mountainside, valuable or not. Actually, it's not inconceivable that birds might breed on the island, away from most human influence. The wind turbines may be a problem for them though,

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      80% is pretty good! And doing it all offshore could cut down on the environmental impact, provided they've got enough openings for the water such that they're not sucking in the sea life.

  • While they are busy pumping water out at night, North Sea rains could pour water in their waterhole 24 hours a day. It would be wiser to pump water up into the artificial lake, so that rain will just add energy to the system. But for sure this has been designed by a belgian engineer...
    • If you have the storage lake at a higher level than the surrounding sea, you have to build a dike to that higher level. When the storage lake sits at a lower level, you only have to account for sea level + wave height.

      Also, precipitation only accounts for a few cm per day.

    • While they are busy pumping water out at night, North Sea rains could pour water in their waterhole 24 hours a day. It would be wiser to pump water up into the artificial lake, so that rain will just add energy to the system. But for sure this has been designed by a belgian engineer...

      You do realise, do you, that since the rest of the surrounding North Sea isn't roofed over, rainfall will raise the water level both inside and outside by the same amount, so the difference in levels will stay exactly the same?

      Having a "hole in the sea" has the added benefit that the melting polar caps (global warming) will raise the sea level, increasing the difference in levels, thus actually adding energy to the system.

  • Do they come with different dipping sauces?
  • if you switch from nuclear to wind you give no benefit to the environment. while there is still fossil fuel power on the grid its irresponsible to reduce nuclear capacity.

    Dont forget that electricity currently accounts for only about 20-30% of energy use. to go carbon neutral we need to electrify home heating/cooking and transport. even if we make everything more efficient as we do this, we still need to double electricity generating capacity.

  • by anorlunda (311253) on Friday January 18, 2013 @09:40AM (#42624877) Homepage

    Pumped storage hydro is a superb way to store and retrieve electric energy. Indeed it is the only proven way to do it on a massive scale.

    Power engineers love pumped storage facilities because of a long list of desirable properties they have. From the power grid point of view, they blend well with everything ever done in the past or contemplated in the future.

    USA slashdotters may be interested to hear that the Blenheim-Gilboa pumped storage facility has been aiding the reliability and affordability of electric power in New York State and New York City for decades.

    The innovation in the Belgian case is to do it using a hole in the water instead of a lake on a mountain top. I'm sure that it will present it's own engineering challenges, but nothing insurmountable comes to mind. We should all wish them good luck.

  • One of the biggest problems with electricity is that it is difficult to store

    no shit, sherlock.

    Perhaps you shouldn't concentrate so much on electricity directly.

    Rebuild your wind farm to produce compressed air instead of electricity.

  • where they used these floating islands to dissipate the residual energy of moving someone from point A to point B. The idea being that the moving the person without doing so would be fatal to them.

  • ... simply fart into a balloon?

    ... and then let it go, zipping all through the room, when they want to retrieve the power of their wind?

  • So they want to store energy in a hole in the water. I thought Holy Water was patented by the Catholic Church.

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