Building Wind Farms and Pumped-Storage Power Plants

Source: www.gulfoilandgas.com 11/23/2010, Location: Europe

The industrial property company RAG Montan Immobilien and RWE Innogy, two companies with their head offices in Essen, have signed a letter of intent declaring that they wish to turn a spoil heap into a site for a power plant combining pumped storage with wind power. It will probably be the Sundern spoil heap near Hamm-Pelkum. The aim of the cooperation is to look into the economic and technical feasibility of this integrated energy scheme to supply electricity based on wind and water and thus to ensure 24/7 availability to meet existing demand. If the results of the study are positive, the detailed planning can start as early as 2011. RAG and RWE want to work together on further projects if similar integrated energy schemes turn out to be feasible on other spoil heaps in North-Rhine Westphalia.

Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt, Chairman of the Board of Directors of RWE Innogy:
“We urgently need smart schemes to balance the natural fluctuations of wind power. Otherwise we’ll soon come to our natural limits in the growth of renewables. Spoil heaps may prove to be really valuable in this. They are up to 100 metres high and their potential wind output is excellent. Also, the gradient of a spoil heap can be used for the operation of a pumped-storage power plant – a topographical requirement which we don’t often have in northern Germany. Another important benefit is that we don’t need to interfere with any naturally grown landscape on a spoil heap so that the project should be far more acceptable to the population.”

Bernd Tonjes, Chief Executive Officer of RAG: “To develop this special regional potential, RAG and RWE are forming a strong and exclusive partnership in North-Rhine Westphalia. It’s a shared commitment which will also be of direct benefit to the region and its people. It means we are making a good contribution to climate protection that will be worthwhile for everyone, while also demonstrating the innovative strength of each company. Working with new and often unconventional projects, RAG is set to make good use of all the identified potential of its land."

Prof. Hans-Peter Noll, Chairman of the Management Board of RAG Montan Immobilien: “As a subsidiary of RAG – which manages the operational realisation of the project – our contribution to the partnership will be our expertise and know-how of the Group’s potential sites in this region so that renewable energies will rank high." The planned combined power plant will use wind power at times of high wind output to pump the water of the pumped-storage power plant from a low-lying reservoir to a reservoir on top of the spoil heap, some 50 metres higher up. Whenever the demand for power is high, the water is discharged back into the lower reservoir through a turbine which produces electricity. The volume of the reservoir will probably be some 600,000 cubic metres – roughly the equivalent of the storage volume of about 75,000 car batteries (mid-range vehicles). The pumped-storage power plant will provide a capacity of 15 to 20 megawatts.

The companies will first study certain basics, such as wind conditions on the spoil heap, the likely success of a permit as well as costs and potential energy customers of the plant. They will then evaluate any technical and economic variables that are relevant. The two companies have set themselves a maximum timeframe of up to 18 months. If realisation is feasible, RAG Montan Immobilien will contribute the spoil heaps and RWE Innogy will run the plants.


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