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Dutch firms developing 'energy island' concept

Businesses in the Netherlands are looking at developing an “energy island” in the North Sea to help store electricity and tackle some of the reliability problems associated with wind energy.

Energy consultancy Kema and engineering specialist Lievense are collaborating on the innovative project which could be a model for other countries including the UK who are expecting to rely on large scale wind power.

The concept is based subsurface-lake power station which will generate electricity when wind power drops.

A Kema statement said: “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 carbon dioxide 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.”

The project has been financed so far by the energy companies Delta, Eneco, Nuon, E.ON Benelux, EPZ, Essent and TenneT and with a subsidy from the We@Sea Foundation.

The Kema statement said: “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.'

How the energy island could work:
The principle of the subsurface-lake power station is made technically possible by using the thick clay layer under the floor of the North Sea to form the lake.

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 Lievens extended 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.

Source: Kema