Tag Archives: pumped hydro

El Hierro – a change in operating procedures

The Gorona del Viento (GdV) plant on the Canary Island of El Hierro is a flagship project designed ultimately to provide the island with 100% renewable electricity and to demonstrate that hybrid wind/pumped hydro systems can be used to generate 100% renewable electricity in other parts of the world. This short post documents a change in operating procedures at Gorona del Viento (GdV) that occurred shortly after 7am on May 16th (yesterday as I write). Continue reading

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Is large-scale energy storage dead?

Many countries have committed to filling large percentages of their future electricity demand with intermittent renewable energy, and to do so they will need long-term energy storage in the terawatt-hours range. But the modules they are now installing store only megawatt-hours of energy. Why are they doing this? This post concludes that they are either conveniently ignoring the long-term energy storage problem or are unaware of its magnitude and the near-impossibility of solving it. Continue reading

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El Hierro – and the water goes round and round ……

Roger Andrews tries to make sense of the pumped hydro component of the 100% renewable plant operated by GdV on El Hierro, Spain. His conclusion is that the upper reservoir has fallen out of use, evidently confirmed by photographs from Rainer, our man on El Hierro. It appears that surplus wind energy is simply used to pump water up the hill and to then let it run down again. Continue reading

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Another Visit to El Hierro

An analysis of the El Hierro island electric data found on the Red Eléctrica de España site for the period from June 26 to August 31, 2015 shows that the renewable contributions have covered 49.5 % of the electric demand of the island. It also shows that with the present wind plus storage system this renewable fraction can’t exceed 80.1%. Neither the capacity of the smaller reservoir of the pumping system, the power of the pumps, nor their efficiencies appears to be the limiting factor. Increasing the active wind power appears as the most effective option to reach a higher renewable fraction. Continue reading

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El Hierro Revisited

In November last year I wrote a post on the Gorona del Viento plant on the island of El Hierro in the Canaries, an innovative renewable energy project that uses a pumped hydro system to supply dispatchable power to the grid and surplus power from a wind farm to keep the pumped hydro reservoirs topped up. Gorona del Viento was in the news at the time because it had just been commissioned and was being hailed as an example of how renewable energy could be made to supply 100% of energy needs on a remote island. Continue reading

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The Cost of Energy Storage

I taught my students that intermittent renewable electricity (wind and solar) was third class compared with dispatchable fossil fuels (first class) and baseload nuclear power (second class). But that renewables may be turned into a first class electricity source with the development of affordable grid-scale storage. Continue reading

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El Hierro – another model for a sustainable energy future

El Hierro, which was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2000, has become a global model of sustainable development in which technology, renewable energy and protection of the environment come together in a single project, one that is set to become a benchmark for the global energy market. But will it? Continue reading

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California public utilities vote no on energy storage

So here we have a near-unanimous vote of no confidence in energy storage from utility professionals whose job it is to supply reliable power to consumers and who understand the realities of the electricity market. The conclusions are:

1. California is not going to get any meaningful amount of energy storage capacity before 2020.
2. In all likelihood no one else is going to get any either. The economics just aren’t there (pumped hydro excluded).
3. Lack of energy storage capacity will continue to limit the grid penetration of non-dispatchable renewable generation for the foreseeable future. Continue reading

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