Australia is aiming to increase renewable electricity generation to 33GW hours by 2020, with hydroelectric power stations expected to play a huge role in achieving the goal.

According to a study by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), a project in Germany proves that wind farms, combined with pumped-storage power plants, can help achieve the energy transition and stabilise the grid.

The procurement and investment costs for renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind farms, are steadily declining since solar panels and wind turbines have now become mass-produced, which in turn has lead to falling production costs.

To ensure the success of the energy transition, power generation from volatile energy sources needs to be secured with energy storage. To this end, a study commissioned by ARENA identified 12,000 potential sites for pumped storage power plants throughout Australia.

According to ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht, “Pumped hydro is the most common and most mature form of energy storage. We are exploring the potential for pumped hydro to play a greater role in delivering Australia’s electricity needs. The findings of this study prove there are opportunities across Australia worthy of further investigation.”

The Water Battery from Max Bögl Wind AG is a completely new and innovative large-scale storage system that combines renewable power generation with a modern pumped storage power plant.

The first Water Battery project is currently being developed near Stuttgart, Germany. It consists of a wind farm with four wind turbines – including the highest in the world at 178m – and a pumped storage hydroelectric power plant with an installed capacity of 16MW.

This storage concept is extremely flexible and can switch between electricity generation and storage within 30 seconds, which makes it possible to make short-term adjustments to the demands of the electricity market.

The storage concept uses the tower base of the wind turbines as water storage facilities, with a storage capacity of 70MW hours. A penstock connects them with a hydroelectric power station and its lower reservoir located 200m further down the valley.

“The Water Battery is a natural storage facility that stands out due to its durability and high degree of flexibility,” CFO at Max Bögl Wind AG, Jürgen Joos, said.

Josef Knitl, Board Member of Max Bögl Wind AG, added, “Without large-scale and forward-looking projects and ideas, the energy transition cannot succeed. With Water Batteries and Hybrid Towers, we are making wind energy a more attractive and efficient source of clean energy.”

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