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back to article Dutch plan 'Energy Island'

A Dutch company has proposed an interesting new kind of pumped-storage energy station. Normally, such facilities work by pumping huge uphill reservoirs full of water and letting it flow out through hydro-power turbines later on to release the stored energy. This one, however, works by emptying a huge reservoir. Concept cutaway …

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Free energy

Sorry the author is wrong, the amount of energy out CAN exceed the energy in!

The Island is in a tidal sea so pumping at low tide and generating at high tide will generate more energy.

I know this 'cos my company is promoting the Wash Tidal Barrier to do similar things in the UK.

Peter Dawe, CEO

Wash Tidal Barrier Corp plc

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Sam

Marvellous

Dyke, finger, pumping, and uphill all in one article.

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Anonymous Coward

solar panels

in africa. don't know why they haven't done it yet. would solve all the worlds problems.

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Ash
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Meh

Surely the point of ideas like this (energy storage during peak output from renewables for use during low output) is that they work in tandem with other energy storage ideas (electric car batteries etc) to provide just PART of an overall solution. Arguing that this idea can't completely solve the problem is ridiculous.

Another article with the typical El reg editorial slant. It's hypocritical that they rubbish other media for having bias (rightly) whilst at the same time blatantly pushing their own anti-anything-green opinions, to the expense of decent and objective scientific analysis.

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Paris Hilton

Times article

Snigger....

Pipes in Dykes

Snigger....

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Anonymous Coward

... and when it rains ...

they loose energy.

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What about the Germans?

I'm dutch and just wondering, a lot of Germans come to our beaches, and as everybody knows, they like to dig holes there.. Why not use those instead? And of course we still have our beloved IJsselmeer, it wouldn't be all that much of problem to use that, we just have to make it a little deeper..

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Anonymous Coward

I'm a bit mystified.

LP goes on an great length (here and elsewhere) about the vast scale of our energy consumption.

It would seem, therefore, that any replacement for our addiction to fossilized biofuels would also need to be of similarly vast scale.

This idea apparently should work fine ... but LP comments only that it:"could be handy on a more limited scale".

But if there are no serious engineering problems, surely building these (or whatever other (non-)crazy renewables-compatible idea is under discussion) on a _vast_ scale might be more appropriate? To match our vast energy consumption? Hmm?

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> power out isn't "matched or exceeded"

>> The water would then be pumped out. The electricity generated by the water pouring in

>> is matched or exceeded by that needed to pump it out.

> except that it won't supply any energy itself. The island could supply two million Dutch homes

> when fully emptied, yes - but for only about half a day. And no, power out isn't "matched or

> exceeded" by power in, it's definitely exceeded. There are no perpetual motion machines.

To be fair if they can time the pumping in and out with the tide state then filling it up at high tide and emptying it at low tide would give a possibly useful gain. But of course that spectacularly reduces the flexibility that was the point of the exercise ibn the first place...

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Bronze badge

Cunning plan to extend Holland...

Given the Dutch are past masters are reclaiming land, then possibly some of the colossal costs of this scheme could be offset by using the material dredged out to produce saleable land.

Does anybody have a quick calculator on the costs of dredging out this lot? It would be relatively easy to do the energy calculations. Obviously this mamoth bucket would have to be emptied and refilled many, many times over just to get back in energy equilibrium.

Quite apart from anything else, it is ingeneous, and there are plenty of places off of the east coast of England that could be adapted to this purpose. We might even be able to reconnect the UK to the European mainland this way (might upset the ship owners though). Perhaps we could build that replacement to Heathrow in the Thames estuary after all based on material dredged from thes things.

Giga engineering might be back - Brunel would have loved it.

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Silver badge

fifty billion cubes of gas

I've never seen a cube of gas. If you can see a cube of gas I'd wager that it's no longer a gas.

I seem to recall that gas is measured in cubic somethings or another, though.

But fifty BILLION cubic whatevers A DAY ? That must surely be wrong.

And how much is that in grapefruits ? Where did the El Reg conversion system go ? Link on homepage please.

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Boffin

Idea to boost efficiency

It gets rid of some of the timeliness advantage, but could they not fill it up- or at least make sure it'll finish filling up- at high tide, then at low tide vent the stored water into the relatively low north sea? Surely with a decent tide-height you could recuperate a decent proportion of that 20% lost energy?

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Thumb Up

What about human sized hamster wheels???

...But there's a problem there. Even in the UK, with all the mountains and lochs of Scotland, Wales and the Lake District to hand, eminent analysts suspect that it would be hard to actually build enough pumped storage to last the nation through a several-day calm...

In these periods couldn't we have the imprisoned population running generators off human sized hamster wheels? Surely that would be more beneficial than sewing mail sacks or watching Prison Break?? Or variations based on bikes, rowing machines etc extending this into gyms so at least the people there wasting all our Oxygen on exercise can at least do something useful! I'm sure Bannatyne would love that one... May be you could even create a variation of a tidal power generator to go round the edges of swimming pools too!

I suppose there are a few factors to take into consideration though:

1. Potential - Lots (of stored energy sitting around)

2. Cost - Prohibitive

3. Adoption - zero

back to the drawing board then...

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Bronze badge

Tidal synchronisation

Lots of clever comments here on how you can get more power out by synchronising the pumping out the reservoir and filling it up at the right points in the tidal cycle to get out more than you put in. Well that's all well and good, but this is meant to be a reserve power store, emptied out (or filled up with potential energy if you wish) when there is a surplus of online capacity and filled up (emptied out of potential energy) when there is a deficit of online power. The problem is that there is no way of synchronising the tidal range and these events.

In fact if you used this scheme to store surplus power from any tidal barrier schemes then it';s guaranteed to happen at pretty nearly the worst time (well unless you electricaly link up with a tidal barrier system several thousaand km away).

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Anonymous Coward

Tides

Now I like the idea of harnessing the tides to generate electricity, but I dont think they will help in this scheme, or not as much as people are thinking. The water level (at least in London) moves by 2-4m, the depth of this thing is 50m. So you might get 4-8%ish back via the tide, but no where near the 20% it sounds like you'd need to recoup the whole cost.

Still, its schemes like this can only help solve the problem.

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Times is right without even knowing it

It can supply. It can double up as a tidal generation plant. So once you have run out of "empty" space inside you can still continue to generate though the rate will be reduced due to lower useful height.

So for starters, this requires much less "islands" to survive a 5 day calm and the per-island economic parameters are much better than those envisioned by their designers.

The quantity of energy generated per litre in accumulator mode also depends on tide levels. Same for the energy required to pump it out (cost of storage). This can be used to improve the economics (as long as the design takes it into account of course).

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Bronze badge
Black Helicopters

Fischer Tropsch process

The Fischer Tropsch process enables hydrogen generated through wind electricity and electrolysis to be combined with CO from burning biowaste and biomass in low oxygen to generate fully sustainable and storable hydrocarbon fuels usable in conventional engines and turbines.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fischer_Tropsch_synthesis

Another approach is to store compressed air directly in sealed old mine workings:

http://www.isepa.com/about_isep.asp

Or in undersea caissons or flexible bags:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compressed_air_energy_storage

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Tidal Assist

Hmmm just thinking about this - if you pumped out all the water at low tide, then waited until high tide to start your turbines then you could actually get out significantly more electricty than you had pumped in - the difference coming from tidal energy. Then at low tide open a flood gate and just let the excess water pour out - same approach as a tidal barrage.........so this could actually be more efficient than just pumped storage and might actually produce more energy than had been taken from the grid..the problem is of course that may not fit the spot market/ demand profile. However, at least tides are nice and predictable so you can take advantage of them some of the time.

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Go

Great Thames Estuary Airport Island

Someone should send these plans to Boris Johnson to give him another feature to add to the Great Thames Estuary Airport Island. They can stick wind turbines on the exposed land too.

And indeed, this can generate electricity both during the filling up of the reservoir (as high tide approaches in the ideal situation), and when the tide drops and the water naturally leaves the reservoir, before needing excess electricity to complete the emptying process.

Of course when you have too many of these reservoirs emptying themselves overnight, their demands for electricity could be such that the price increases!

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Don't waste electricity to store electricity

Ring the reservoirs with windmills. Couple the windmills *mechanically* with the water pumps. Then you would simply be capturing the wind, in the water, to use later for generating electricity.

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Happy

Reliable power

This is really just a bodge to get round the problems of wind power - you can't rely on it to be there when you need it.

Better to go straight to tidal power - build these big ring islands, generate electricity as the tide flows in, and again when it flows out.

Stick some heavy power using industries on the rim, thus cutting transmission losses. Or build housing - coastal properties are very popular.

The tide is 100% predictable, and by spreading the islands all round the coast, we would take advantage of different tide times to give continuous power.

Cut out the middleman.

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Boffin

incomplete

Where is the anvil, tied to a balloon? What about the frying pan (or tea kettle), and the toaster?

I don't even see a bowling ball in the drawing!

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Think a lot bigger.

Mediterranean.

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