Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the category “hydro”

Baihetan Hydropower Station

The Baihetan Dam is a large hydroelectric dam on the Jinsha River, an upper stretch of the Yangtze River in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, in the southwest of China. The dam is a 277 m tall double-curvature arch dam with a crest elevation of 827 m, and a width of 72 m at the base and 13 m at the crest. It is considered the last large hydropower project in China to be completed since a series of projects starting with the Three Gorges Dam, the third largest dam in China and the fourth in the world, in terms of dam volume. The facility will generate power by utilizing 16 turbines, each with a generating capacity of 1,000 MW, taking the generating capacity to 16,000 MW. In terms of generating capacity, it will be the second largest hydroelectric power plant in the world, after the Three Gorges Dam.

The new hydropower station will be fully operational by the end of 2022.

[] – Baihetan Dam
[] – World’s largest hydropower project under construction starts operations marking China’s world leadership

Pumped Hydro Rotor Manufacturing

German engineering at its finest. A pumped-hydro power rotor, generating as much energy as 70 Boeing Jumbo’s: 90 MW. Langenprozelten has two generators and 180 MW/950 MWh total capacity.

[] – Langenprozelten Pumped Storage Station
[Google Maps] – Location

Langenprozelten pumped-hydro basin from the air. The small lake is not too intrusive in the landscape. Perfect solution for 5-hour storage. The storage is used to support the railway system.

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The Truth About Pumped Hydro

[] – Turlough Hill Power Station

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Great Potential for Pumped Hydro in Scotland

A new study points at the great potential for pumped hydro storage in the Scottish Highlands.

Power by 2050: 4.5 GW
Saving potential: £700m a year

[] – Highlands jobs in prospect if power plant project goes ahead
[] – Coire Glas Pumped-Hydro Scheme
[Google Maps] – Loch Lochy

New Catalyst Improves Chances Fuel Cell

Danish and Swiss researchers have developed a method to construct fuel cells with less platinum and lower its cost. The new catalyst consists of a weave of platinum and cobalt, that has a higher chemical activity per unit of platinum. As a side-effect, fuel cells can operate at higher temperatures. The amount of platinum per car can in principle be reduced from 30-50 gram down to 5 gram.

But it is too early to announce a breakthrough. The technology has yet to prove it can work in heavy duty practice, outside laboratory conditions.

[] – Neuer Katalysator soll Kosten von Brennstoffzellen senken
[] – Fuel cells for hydrogen vehicles are becoming longer lasting
[] – Self-supported Pt–CoO networks combining high specific activity with high surface area for oxygen reduction

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam


Ethiopia (109 million) is building a giant dam in the Nile River, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD, 6 GW, 16,153 GWh/year), but Egypt (100 million) is not amused and fears for its water supply and wants a say in how quickly the upstream reservoir will be filled and the water release pattern. Ethiopia intends to begin filling the reservoir as of mid July. Down-stream Sudan also worries about the dam.

The dam will supply electricity, not just to entire Ethiopia, but also to neighboring states. the economic impact will be huge. The Nile in Sudan and Egypt is fed by the Blue Nile coming from Ethiopia (average 1,548 m3/s) and the White Nile from South-Sudan (average 878 m3/s). White and Blue Nile come together in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan.

When completed, the dam will have a height of 155 m. The lowest point is currently 60 m. On the plus side does Egypt have itself the large Aswan dam, with a considerable reservoir.

[] – Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
[] – Äthiopien staut, Ägypten schäumt
[] – Blue nile
[] – White Nile


Doggerbank Pumped Hydropower Storage

Master thesis of Lucas de Vilder (2017), Technical University Delft in the Netherlands, exploring the possibility of a large scale inverse pumped hydro storage facility in the middle of the North Sea at the Dutch part of the Doggerbank. The idea is to build a ring dike of typically 40 meter high for pumped hydro energy storage purpose. The facility would be “inverse”, meaning that the dike would hardly be elevated above sea level. The required altitude difference between sea level and reservoir level is achieved by digging a deep basin rather than building a high dike.

Spoiler: For a preferred 25GWh storage capacity and 2.65GW of installed power the LCOS may vary from 68.2€/MWh to 19.0€/MWh of which 40€/MWh is found the most realistic. At an average Dutch power consumption of 13 GW, the storage facility would contain the equivalent of 2 hours of Dutch electricity consumption and could be released in 10 hours. The cost would be 3-18 times lower per unit of energy compared to batteries and power-to-gas.

A US study has shown that with 4-8 hours of storage you can cover 55% renewable energy. Let’s assume 6 hours. 13 GW average Dutch power means that 6 hours correspond to 6 hours x 13 GW = 78 GWh. In a graph below it is claimed that the cost of a 80 GWh storage is ca. 4 billion euro. For a country like Holland with an expected GDP of 888 billion euro in 2019 and public debt below 60%, that is absolutely doable. With such a storage in place, the Netherlands can roll out its intended 2 x 7 GW monster offshore wind projects “with two fingers in the nose” and buy a decade or so time to wait for longer duration storage solutions to emerge, most likely hydrogen or derivative ammonia. 80% or more efficiency at electrolysis of steam, rather than water, has already been realized.

[] – Offshore Pumped Hydropower Storage
(Link contains possibility to download pdf)
[] – Dogger Bank

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Pumped Hydro Storage in Belgium, Luxemburg and Germany

Coo-Trois-Ponts Hydroelectric Power Station

The largest pumped hydro storage power stations near the Netherlands:


Coo-Trois-Ponts – 1978, power: 1.16 GW. Location.

[] – Coo-Trois-Ponts Hydroelectric Power Station

La Plate Taille – 2003, power: 140 MW. Location.

[] – Lampiris


Vianden – upper 10.8 million m3, lower 7.2 million m3. Power: 220 MW. Altitude difference: 291 m. Location.

[] – Vianden Pumped Storage Plant

Esch-sur-Sûre – Power 11 MW. Location.

[] – Esch-sur-Sûre Dam
[] – List of power stations in Belgium

[deepresource] – NorNed


Herdecke – 1927, power 153 MW. Location.

[] – Pumpspeicherkraftwerk Herdecke

Rönkhausen – 1969, power 140 MW. Location.

[] – Pumpspeicherwerk Rönkhausen

[] – Liste von Pumpspeicherkraftwerken

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Interview Jan Huynen

Dutch language interview with Dr. Jan Huynen, who recently proposed an ambitious pumped-hydro storage project, using 1400 m deep abandoned Dutch coal mines:

[deepresource] – Pumped Hydro Storage for Flatlanders

Expansion Shoalhaven Pumped Hydro Scheme To 475 MW

[] – Shoalhaven Pumped Hydro Scheme To Double To 475 MW

Hoover Dam to Become Mega-Battery


Date of first operation: 1936
Primary reservoir: 35.200 km3, 180 km
Generating capacity: 2.080 MW
Annual generation: 4.2 TWh
Project cost: $3B
Date operational start hydro storage: 2028

[] – Hoover Dam
[] – Hoover-Damm soll Mega-Batterie werden
[] – LA To Turn Hoover Dam Into World’s Largest Hydro Storage
[] – The $3 Billion Plan to Turn Hoover Dam Into a Giant Battery

Switzerland – The Alpine Battery

Swiss hydro power generates 60% of the countries electricity.

[] – Electricity sector in Switzerland

More General Electric renewable energy drone videos:

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Pumped Hydro Storage Proposal for Loch Ness

Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness

400 MW, 2.4 GWh pumped hydro storage plant proposed for Loch Ness by ILI Energy, enough to power 400,000 households for 6 hours. Scotland has 2.4 million households and in 2017 69% of its electricity generating capacity was renewable, mostly wind. By 2020 this share is expected to be increased to the full 100%.

[] – Major hydro project proposed for Loch Ness
[] – Scotland’s next Loch Ness monster could power 400,000 homes
[] – Loch Ness soll als Energiespeicher dienen

Overview Pumped Hydro Facilities in Europe

Goldisthal, largest PHS facility in Germany. Completed in 2004, 1060 MW, 8.5 GWh, 12/19 million m3 (upper/lower), 600 million euro.

[] – An overview of large-scale stationary electricity storage plants in Europe [2015]
[] – Europe to experience pumped storage boom [2013]

[] – Bath County Pumped Storage Station [USA]
Largest PHS facility in the world: 1985, $1.6B, 79% efficiency, 44 million m3, 3060 MW, 44 GWh, Voith-Siemens.

[] – List of pumped-storage hydroelectric power stations
(world-wide, over 1000 MW)

Can Norway Serve as Europe’s Battery Pack?


Arguments pro and con.

[] – Why Norway Can’t Become Europe’s Battery Pack
[] – The Debate Over Norway’s Ability to Become a Hydro Battery for Europe Is Surprisingly Robust
[] – Norway Could Provide 20,000MW of Energy Storage to Europe

Three Gorges Dam

[] – Three Gorges Dam
[] – Three Gorges Dam
[] – China’s Three Gorges Dam: An Environmental Catastrophe?

Norwegian Energy Policies

Stolsvatn hydropower plant

Norway is of central importance in the design of a pan-European renewable energy base. The country is sparsely populated and has mountains with large lakes, that can function as hydro storage basins for excess renewable energy from offshore wind from countries like the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. Although Norway is not a member of the EU, it does closely cooperate on many areas with Brussels, including energy.

Natural conditions for the production of HP in Norway are very favourable. Yearly precipitation in most of the country varies from 300/500 up to more than 2000 mm, and precipitation is rather evenly distributed over the year. There are large mountainous areas and mountain plateaus with high elevation and steep falls/short distances down to the lowlands/coastal areas. The high number of lakes provides ideal conditions for establishing reservoirs. They are key elements in the hydropower infrastructure as precipitation falls as snow 3-5 months during the winter season when runoff is at its lowest and electricity demand at its highest.

[] – Energy and Water Resources in Norway
[] – The Master Plan for the Management of Watercourses in Norway
[] – Hydropower in Norway
[] – Implicit Environmental Costs in Hydroelectric Development

[deepresource] – Norway Wants to Become Europe’s Battery Pack
[deepresource] – Norway Europe’s Green Battery
[deepresource] – NorNed
[deepresource] – Green Light For British-Norwegian Interconnector
[deepresource] – European Supergrid Submarine Cables – Inventory & Plans
[deepresource] – 1 kWh (=lifting a car to the top of the Eiffel Tower)

Battle Developing over Vjosa River in Albania

The Vjosa, situated in Albania, is Europe’s last unspoiled river. A large hydro-power dam is planned in the 270 km long river and the usual conflict between economic interests & increased wealth vs nature breaks out. Albania is already the “largest” hydro-power producer in the world in terms of share of the total electricity production palette (90% in 2011) and wants to increase this share to 100%. A Vjosa river dam could add another 400 MW. Other projects underway include Skavica, up to 350 MW and Devolli 400 MW.

Hydro-power in the balkans. Legend: black=existing, yellow=under construction, red=planned.

[] – Aoös
[] – Vjosa River, Europe’s Unknown Wild Jewel
[] – Albania Power Plant Approval Angers Greens
[] – Das letzte blaue Wunder Europas

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Africas Largest Hydro-power Plant Being Built in Ethiopia

Power: 6 GW
Cost: $6.4 billion
River: Blue Nile
Height: 175 meter
Width: 1800 meter
Elevation at crest: 645 meter
Dam volume: 10 million m3
Storage volume: 79×10E9 m3
Size lake: 1561 km2
Turbines: 16 x 375 MW Francis turbines
Purpose: turn Ethiopia in a “medium income country”
Contractors: Salini Costruttori (Italy) and Alstom (France)
Commission date: July 2017

[] – Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
[Google Maps] – Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

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The World’s Smallest Hydropower Plant

[] – Company site

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