Energy island is innovative concept for large-scale electricity storage

DNV KEMA Energy & Sustainability - 07.05.2007

KEMA and the Lievense bureau collaborate with the Das brothers on an innovative concept for large-scale electricity storage with a ‘subsurface-lake power station’.The first result of their study for the energy companies is a design for the energy island in theNorth Seaoff the Dutch coast.

Electricity storage has a large added value for the energy sector. Storage increases the technical reliability of energy supplies, stabilizes the cost price of electricity and contributes to the reduction of CO2 emissions. Large-scale storage is pre-eminently suitable in electricity markets with a relatively large amount of wind energy, a situation which, according to expectations, will also apply for the Netherlands by about the year 2020. The island also offers numerous other possibilities, varying from coast protection to ports and from aquatic biomass to tourism.

Enormous savings Scenario analyses for the year 2020 show that ‘The Netherlands Ltd.’ can make enormous annual savings on operational costs when electricity storage is an integral part of the electricity system. Not for nothing is electricity storage a topical subject for organizations such as the Dutch Sustainable Electricity Supplies Transition Platform (Transitieplatform Duurzame Elektriciteitsvoorziening). The cost saving becomes larger as the gas price increases. Instead of replacing one or more existing peak power stations (or building a new one) investment can also be made in a large-scale storage system.

Environmental advantages The addition of electricity storage in the electricity net has many environmental advantages, especially in combination with a large amount of wind energy in the electricity system. In this situation electricity power stations need to be taken offline less often, especially at night, or run at a low capacity. By day the stored electricity can be used as a result of which no extra peak power station needs to be used. This increases the energy efficiency of electricity production. The production of wind energy can moreover be used at any moment, as a result of which the CO2 emissions for the total electricity production in the Netherlands are reduced.

Pump generators The principle of the subsurface-lake power station is made technically possible by using the several tens of meters thick clay layer under the floor of the North Sea. When there is a surplus of electricity, sea water is pumped out of the lake into the surrounding sea; when there is a shortage, sea water flows into the lake while driving a generator. The pump generators required are commercially available. In the first design for the energy island, KEMA and the Lievense bureau extended on the established techniques of the dredging industry. The storage capacity is sufficient to provide more than 12 hours of power at a capacity of 1,500 MW, comparable to the capacity of a large electricity power station in the Netherlands. The energy island is an innovative concept that can be attractive in the medium and long term for the Dutch electricity supplies. In a subsequent stage, a detailed location study is planned and the technical capabilities and economic and ecological values of the other functions will be investigated.

The study into this innovative concept has been carried out with financial contributions from the energy companies Delta, Eneco, Nuon, E.ON Benelux, EPZ, Essent and TenneT and with a subsidy from the We@Sea Foundation (Stichting We@Sea).


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