We might as well try and catch the wind
Posted by keelynet on May 29, 2009
All of us know of windy areas, some with topology that would make such a scheme imminently practical.
“What makes Ireland uniquely positioned is that its natural resources have the potential to make this technology work more efficiently here than anywhere else on the planet — and make it cheaper to build. So how does it work? Two forms of energy production, wind farms and hydro (water) electricity production, are used to create power. We already have both working in this country, although not in tandem. Wind farms already exist here and more are being built. We also have one hydro-electric plant at Turlough Hill in the Wicklow mountains. The Turlough Hill project involved slicing off the top of a mountain. It consists of two connected reservoirs, one above the height of the other. Electricity is generated by releasing water from the upper reservoir, passing it through turbines connected to generators. This is done usually in the evenings when electricity demand is at a peak. Overnight, when electricity consumption is low, the turbines are reversed and the water is pumped back up to the upper reservoir. It works well, but it costs electricity to pump the water from the lower reservoir to the upper reservoir. And you have to construct two fresh- water reservoirs under this model. But, by bringing wind and water power together, you can get constant electricity — and more cheaply than you can by hydro or wind power alone. The problem with wind energy — even on the west coast, which is among the windiest places on the continent — is that sometimes the wind doesn’t blow. You have to find a way of storing wind power. But by using wind farms to drive seawater up into huge storage reservoirs and then letting that water flow back down to the sea, driving turbines, you can create a constant supply of cheap power. What makes Ireland such a good place to set up such a system is year-round wind, and the availability of dozens of “U-shaped” valleys all along the western seaboard which can easily be dammed. Numerous bowl-shaped glacial valleys were carved out in the last ice age. Coastal erosion has left them facing the ocean. Many are within 1km-2km from the sea and, when dammed at the sea end, would provide very cost-effective and large storage reservoirs. These U- or bowl-shaped valleys are better suited for water storage than the V- shaped valleys found in Switzerland and other countries because they can lock in more water. V-shaped valleys require construction of larger dams for the same amount of storage. When dammed, a “head” or height of water above the power station of 100m-150m can be achieved. This would store large amounts of energy in a lake 2km-3km long and approximately 1km-2km wide. Spirit of Ireland is planning to invest €10bn in the project, which would create tens of thousands of jobs, end our €3bn-a-year import bill for fossil fuels, and radically reduce our carbon emissions.” – Source
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