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Archive for the category “hydro”

Smart Hydro Power

The most visible application of hydro power are dams that artificially create large volumes of water, the potential energy of which can be converted into kinetic energy of water, descending in pipes.

The German engineering company Smart Hydro Power specializes in generating electricity from flowing, rather than from falling water, eliminating the need for dams.

[] – Smart Hydro Power Turbine
[] – Smart Hydro Power GmbH

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Iceland as a Potentional Renewable Energy Exporter


Iceland has a lot of vulcanic activity as a consequence of its location on top of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge:


Iceland has a population of merely 326,000 people, living in a mostly uninhabited mountainous area of 103,000 km2. The mountain and vulcanic activity are interesting from an energy point of view: potential for hydro power and storage (larger than mountainous Italy or Spain), as well as geothermal energy (hot water), providing for 85% of the domestic energy needs. The rest comes from imported oil for transport. Iceland has quite a large hydrogen production capacity used in cars. Since 2012 Iceland is in talks with the UK about constructing a cable for transmission of electricity between the two countries. Electricity prices in Iceland and UK are 9 and 20 dollar cent/kwh resp., which offers potential for export from Iceland to the UK and the rest of Europe. Most potential for hydro power and geothermal energy has not been developed; the Icelanders are already by far the biggest energy consumers on the planet:

Translating over-all energy use (oil, gas, coal, nuclear, renewable) into kg oil equivalent/capita you get, according to the Worldbank:

Iceland 16,905
Canada 7,474
US 7,056
Russia 4,559
Germany 3,825
Ukraine 2,485
China 1,717
Senegal 260

So, how much potential does Iceland have to offer?

[Deutsche Welle] – Icelandic power export plans still a pipe dream
[] – Iceland Looks to Export Power Bubbling From Below
[] – Power under the sea
[] – Energy in Iceland
[] – In Iceland, Geothermal Energy is “Use or Lose It”
[] – Iceland’s volcanoes may power UK
[] – Icelandic hydroelectric power stations
[] – Hydro Power
Iceland’s precipitation combined with extensive highlands, has an enormous energy potential or up to 220 TWh/yr. Of the primary energy consumption in Iceland, in 2008, 20% was generated from hydropower. The total electricity production was in 2008, 12,5 TWh from hydro.

[] – Development of a methodology for estimation of Technical Hydropower potential in Iceland using high resolution Hydrological Modeling

Calculations were performed with this new method and results presented at an industry conference in 1981 (Tómasson, 1981). The calculations showed that total hydropower potential from precipitation was 252 TWh/yr, where the greatest potential was in the south-east, part of Iceland which has extensive glacial coverage and the least potential in the northern- and western part with less precipitation and lower elevation.


Pumped Hydro Storage In Scotland

Cruachan power station

As reported earlier, renewable energy is doing well in Scotland. But with the increase of that segment of energy generation, the need for storage becomes ever more prominent, considering the intermittent nature of renewable energy supply. The best remedy to date is pumped hydro storage, meaning: if you have too much supply of renewable energy, use that energy to pump water high up into a mountain reservoir and release that potential energy when energy demand is larger than the existing renewable energy system is able to supply.

Currently Scotland has two reservoirs used for pumped storage: Cruachan (1967, 400 MW) and Foyers (1969, 300 MW):


With increased exploitation of renewable energy, more facilities need to become available to even out intermittent supply. Two options:
1. Connection to the European Supergrid
2. New local hydro-pumped storage facilities

Two new facilities re planned for the Great Glen area with a combined capacity of 900 MW.

It has been calculated that if Scotland wants to keep storage matters entirely in its own hands, it would need 7 GW total pumped hydro storage capacity, ten times as much as is available now.

Strong opposition from environmentalists against more mountain hydro reservoirs exists, but it remains to be seen how much of that resistance remains, once push comes to shove and an average Scot is forced to stay in bed in a dark home, thinking about how he would like to have his environmentalist best: medium or well done.

Another option would be to combine large scale pumped hydro storage with battery storage at home, where matters are developing fast, with $100/kwh a possibility in the long term. Under these circumstances, for ca. $1,000 a family could store electricity for two days or more.

[] – Pumped Storage Hydro In Scotland
[] – Cruachan Power Station
[] – List of 10 Scottish hydro-electric power stations

Pumped Hydro Storage

Large energy storage facilities are an essential ingredient of future renewable energy systems to filter out unpredictable supply of renewable energy. Here a few videos about pumped hydro storage systems.

[] – List of existing and planned pumped hydro power stations

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Hydro Power & Storage In Europe

Developed and untapped hydropower potential


Installed hydro storage capacity: 180 TWh. [source]
Electricity consumption: 3,636 TWh/yr. [source]
Hydro storage reserves in days: 18 days

[] – Assessment of the European potential for pumped hydropower energy storage

this study which focuses on two topologies:
(T1) when two reservoirs exist already with the adequate difference in elevation and which are close enough so that they can be linked by a new penstock and electrical equipment
(T2) based on one existing reservoir, when there is a suitable site close enough as to build a second reservoir.

The results show that the theoretical potential in Europe is significant under both topologies, and that the potential of topology 2 is roughly double that of topology 1. Under T1 the theoretical potential energy stored reaches 54 TWh when a maximum of 20 km between existing reservoirs is considered; of this potential approximately 11 TWh correspond to the EU and 37 TWh to candidate countries, mostly Turkey. When a shorter maximum distance between existing reservoirs is considered, e.g. 5 km, the majority of the 0.83 TWh European theoretical potential is in the EU (85%).

Under T2 the European theoretical potential reaches 123 TWh when the distance between the existing reservoir and the prospective site is up to 20 km. Unlike topology 1, in topology 2 the majority of this potential (50%) lies within the EU. For a distance between reservoirs of 5 km a theoretical potential of 15 TWh -of which 7.4 TWh within the EU- was found.

P.S. the figures mentioned need to be reconciled: 180 TWh and the other ones.


Osmotic Power Plant In Norway

Youtube text: Osmotic Power – The energy is based on the natural phenomenon osmosis, defined as being the transport of water through a semi-permeable membrane. This is how plants can absorb moisture through their leaves — and retain it. When fresh water meets salt water, for instance where a river runs into the sea, enormous amounts of energy are released. This energy can be utilized for the generation of power through osmosis. At the osmotic power plant, fresh water and salt water are guided into separate chambers, divided by an artificial membrane. The salt molecules in the sea water pulls the freshwater through the membrane, increasing the pressure on the sea water side. The pressure equals a 120 metre water column, or a significant waterfall, and be utilized in a power generating turbine.

Statkraft prototype Tofte/Norway

A 10 kW prototype was realized in 2008. A commercial scale implementation is expected to become operational in 2015. This is expensive technology.


[] – Prototype Tofte/Hurum, Norway (10 kW)

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Mattmark Hydro Power Plant

– Location: Mattmark, Saas-Almagell/Wallis/Switserland, 2197 m above sea level. Power is mainly generated down the valley in Stalden at 715 m.
– Capacity: 77,500,000 m3 or 254.5 GWh (the energy content of the lake is worth ca. 51 million euro/66 million $ consumer electricity, consumer endprice assumed to be 20 euro cent per kwh). Or alternatively: the lake energy content represents the equivalent of one million man year of hard physical labour, assuming one man day = one kwh (in reality it is less). Adding a non-working woman and two children to the equation to replace the worker after two generations, the energy stored in this lake represents the labour equivalent of a nation like Denmark. In other words: it would take one million Danish men one year of carrying water from Stalden (715 M) to Mattmark (2197 m) in order to fill an empty lake. Come to think of it, we doubt if a Dane is able to lift 77.5 mm3 over 1200 m in a years time. Assuming three climbs per day of 33 liter each makes 0.1 mm3 per day or 775 days non-stop working for 77.5 m3. Swap Denmark for Sweden and you have the real picture: this relatively small power plant generates as much energy as all adult Swedish males combined can produce by muscle power. Figures likes these make it clear why energy can no longer be taken for granted and that real wealth is represented by kwh and not paper money. The Gordon Gekko’s of the future will be those who understand the true meaning of the Mattmark hydro power plant in particular and energy in general rather than money and interest.
– Power: 130.3 MW, both in Stalden and Zermeiggern (Saas-Almagell), fully integrated in pan-European network. Yearly production 665 GWh, meaning that per year slightly more than twice the content of the lake is converted into electrical energy. A mini-reservoir in Zermeiggern is used to store energy by pumping water upwards to the Mattmark lake at times of low demand. The dam was built between 1960-1965, but was interrupted for two years because of the largest accident in Swiss building history, as 88 men were killed after a piece of a gletscher broke off.



Pictures from holiday trip to Mattmark:

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Renaissance for Pumped Storage in Europe

If renewable sources of energy are going to be deployed on a grand scale, the necessity arises to provide for a buffer that can level off intermittent supply of energy from sources like wind and solar. Consulting company Ecoprog anticipates more than 60 new pumped-storage plants with a total capacity of about 27 GW will be built in Europe by 2020, with the market particularly booming in Spain, Switzerland and Austria.

[Norway wants to become Europe’s battery pack]

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Third Largest Hydroelectric Powerstation in the World

Height Guri Dam: 162m, dam reservoir: 175km, 20 turbines generating 10 GW or 70% of Venezuelas electricity needs. Needs to be increased to 12 GW. Investment: 1.3 billion $. Planned completion date: 2016.

[wikipedia – List of largest hydroelectric power stations]

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