Germany will soon be home to a groundbreaking wind farm that solves a big problem with wind power: What happens when the wind isn’t blowing?
General Electric’s (GE) renewable energy arm has signed a turbine-supply agreement with German construction company Max Bögl to develop the world’s first wind farm with an integratedhydropower plant capable of generating power even when there’s no breeze.
According to GE Reports, project “Gaildorf” consists of four wind turbines scattered along a hill in the Swabian-Franconian Forest. These towers are unique in two ways. First, they will stand at a record-breaking height of 584 feet once built. Second, at the base of each tower is a water reservoir containing 1.6 million gallons of water. The four towers are daisy chained by a channel that takes water down a valley to a 16-megawatt pump/generator hydropower plant. The site will house another reservoir holding 9 million gallons of water for additional water storage.
Here’s how it all works, as GE Reports simply explains:
“The big idea here is that the wind will generate electricity when it’s, well, windy, and the water will act as a giant battery that will discharge and modulate output when it stops blowing.
“When electricity is needed, water flowing downhill from the reservoirs will power the hydro plant. When the energy supply is high, the hydro plant will pump the water back up the hill to the reservoirs and will act as the giant battery.”