Germany to Have World’s First Wind-Hydro Farm by 2018

Windpark. Credit: GE Reports

Windpark. Credit: GE Reports

Fossil fuels are non-renewable, and they draw on finite resources that will eventually diminish one day, though when, is a point of dispute. Also, they are damaging environment by carbon emission. Renewable energy has acquired immense importance due to the reason mentioned above and also due to its abundant availability, especially solar and wind and will never run out!

Wind farms have become one of the major electricity generating sources across the planet Earth, but the biggest challenge these wind farms face is how to generate power when there’s no wind and hence how to maintain the constant minimum power supply needed in the grid. Max Bögl Wind AG and GE Renewable Energy are almost near to have the solution to this hurdle by combining wind turbines with hydropower technology. This wind-hydro plant will be the first of its kind in the world, and it will be fully operational by 2018. This is named as project “Gaildorf”.

They have found an ideal location in Germany‘s Swabian-Franconian Forest. The reason to zero down on this forest site was due to the functional requirement of the wind-hydro power generation plant. The innovative concept used 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 the output when the wind stops blowing. When electricity is needed, water flowing downhill from the reservoirs will power the hydro plant to generate hydroelectricity, and it will be pumped back up the hill with the same power generated by the water when that much energy is not needed in the grid. This enables the wind-hydro plant to continually produce power.

Gaildorf will have four wind turbines scattered along a hill in the Swabian-Franconian Forest. These  turbines are unique in two ways- first, they will have a record-breaking height of 584 feet once completed, 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 will take water down the valley to the pump/generator hydropower plant. The site here will house another reservoir having the holding capacity of 9 million gallons of water for additional water storage. This wind farm will generate 13.6 megawatts of power whereas the hydroelectric plant can generate 16 megawatts.

A pilot project with four wind turbines is slated to be connected to the grid by the year 2017, and the hydropower plant will be operational in 2018. The project is going to be of great help to Germany to achieve its goal of generating a minimum of 45% of its energy via renewable sources by 2030.

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