Offshore storage: one ring to rule them all

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Richard Heap
December 15, 2014
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This content is from our archive. Some formatting or links may be broken.
Offshore storage: one ring to rule them all

Do you know about Belgium’s energy island? No, it's not reality TV.

In early 2015, the Belgian government is set to decide whether GDF Suez subsidiary Electrabel and dredging firm DEME can build a ring-shaped North Sea ‘energy island’. The idea of the project is to ‘store’ excess energy generated from offshore wind farms.

The notion of building an ‘energy island’ in the sea may sound like an outlandish project dreamt up by a Middle Eastern sheikh, but the project is not that fanciful. The proposed technology is one of the most cost-effective types of energy storage, and most importantly, it could boost returns for investors in nearby offshore wind farms.

The idea borrows from the hydroelectric sector.

In short, the island would be built from sand 3km off the Belgian coast, and the hole in the middle would be filled with water.

At times of excess offshore wind power generation, electricity would be used to pump the water out; and, when the power supply drops, water would be allowed to flow back in; generating power from hydroelectric turbines as it goes.

So, in actual fact, it isn’t storing anything. Rather, it uses excess energy from wind farms to power a process that can produce more energy when the wind isn’t blowing. The Belgian government has said it would take five years to build, so it could be with us by 2020.

Spending extra money on offshore wind energy storage may look counterintuitive to what offshore wind developers are trying to do: reduce the cost of projects. Indeed, Dong Energy and Vattenfall have both committed to cut 40% of the cost of offshore wind farms by 2020. In the short term, these ‘energy islands’ would add cost.

However, there's a far bigger opportunity here in long-term revenue regeneration. Investing in tech that enables a more consistent and predictable electricity supply from offshore wind means that the long-term viability and value of the projects increase.

That has huge ramifications for prospective power purchasers, whereby greater certainty of supply is often a far more valuable concept than peak power alone. In essence, it’s all pretty positive.

We have just one concern: managing the excitement. Seriously.

This is an exciting development and represents a big opportunity for offshore wind investors. However, to get backing from the Belgian government it will need to look safe, simple and boring. Reliability is more compelling then recklessness or razzmatazz.

If offshore wind investors want to get support for such schemes on their own projects then they will need to emphasis that this is a known technology based on simple mechanical processes. None of your complex battery systems here. That, in turn, should help keep down the costs of maintenance, which can be very costly offshore.

This should give investors confidence to look at similar systems for their own schemes, regardless of what happens in Belgium. The technology is simple, reliable, cost effective and proven.

Just don't make out it's exciting. In this case, boring wins.

Do you know about Belgium’s energy island? No, it's not reality TV.

In early 2015, the Belgian government is set to decide whether GDF Suez subsidiary Electrabel and dredging firm DEME can build a ring-shaped North Sea ‘energy island’. The idea of the project is to ‘store’ excess energy generated from offshore wind farms.

The notion of building an ‘energy island’ in the sea may sound like an outlandish project dreamt up by a Middle Eastern sheikh, but the project is not that fanciful. The proposed technology is one of the most cost-effective types of energy storage, and most importantly, it could boost returns for investors in nearby offshore wind farms.

The idea borrows from the hydroelectric sector.

In short, the island would be built from sand 3km off the Belgian coast, and the hole in the middle would be filled with water.

At times of excess offshore wind power generation, electricity would be used to pump the water out; and, when the power supply drops, water would be allowed to flow back in; generating power from hydroelectric turbines as it goes.

So, in actual fact, it isn’t storing anything. Rather, it uses excess energy from wind farms to power a process that can produce more energy when the wind isn’t blowing. The Belgian government has said it would take five years to build, so it could be with us by 2020.

Spending extra money on offshore wind energy storage may look counterintuitive to what offshore wind developers are trying to do: reduce the cost of projects. Indeed, Dong Energy and Vattenfall have both committed to cut 40% of the cost of offshore wind farms by 2020. In the short term, these ‘energy islands’ would add cost.

However, there's a far bigger opportunity here in long-term revenue regeneration. Investing in tech that enables a more consistent and predictable electricity supply from offshore wind means that the long-term viability and value of the projects increase.

That has huge ramifications for prospective power purchasers, whereby greater certainty of supply is often a far more valuable concept than peak power alone. In essence, it’s all pretty positive.

We have just one concern: managing the excitement. Seriously.

This is an exciting development and represents a big opportunity for offshore wind investors. However, to get backing from the Belgian government it will need to look safe, simple and boring. Reliability is more compelling then recklessness or razzmatazz.

If offshore wind investors want to get support for such schemes on their own projects then they will need to emphasis that this is a known technology based on simple mechanical processes. None of your complex battery systems here. That, in turn, should help keep down the costs of maintenance, which can be very costly offshore.

This should give investors confidence to look at similar systems for their own schemes, regardless of what happens in Belgium. The technology is simple, reliable, cost effective and proven.

Just don't make out it's exciting. In this case, boring wins.

Do you know about Belgium’s energy island? No, it's not reality TV.

In early 2015, the Belgian government is set to decide whether GDF Suez subsidiary Electrabel and dredging firm DEME can build a ring-shaped North Sea ‘energy island’. The idea of the project is to ‘store’ excess energy generated from offshore wind farms.

The notion of building an ‘energy island’ in the sea may sound like an outlandish project dreamt up by a Middle Eastern sheikh, but the project is not that fanciful. The proposed technology is one of the most cost-effective types of energy storage, and most importantly, it could boost returns for investors in nearby offshore wind farms.

The idea borrows from the hydroelectric sector.

In short, the island would be built from sand 3km off the Belgian coast, and the hole in the middle would be filled with water.

At times of excess offshore wind power generation, electricity would be used to pump the water out; and, when the power supply drops, water would be allowed to flow back in; generating power from hydroelectric turbines as it goes.

So, in actual fact, it isn’t storing anything. Rather, it uses excess energy from wind farms to power a process that can produce more energy when the wind isn’t blowing. The Belgian government has said it would take five years to build, so it could be with us by 2020.

Spending extra money on offshore wind energy storage may look counterintuitive to what offshore wind developers are trying to do: reduce the cost of projects. Indeed, Dong Energy and Vattenfall have both committed to cut 40% of the cost of offshore wind farms by 2020. In the short term, these ‘energy islands’ would add cost.

However, there's a far bigger opportunity here in long-term revenue regeneration. Investing in tech that enables a more consistent and predictable electricity supply from offshore wind means that the long-term viability and value of the projects increase.

That has huge ramifications for prospective power purchasers, whereby greater certainty of supply is often a far more valuable concept than peak power alone. In essence, it’s all pretty positive.

We have just one concern: managing the excitement. Seriously.

This is an exciting development and represents a big opportunity for offshore wind investors. However, to get backing from the Belgian government it will need to look safe, simple and boring. Reliability is more compelling then recklessness or razzmatazz.

If offshore wind investors want to get support for such schemes on their own projects then they will need to emphasis that this is a known technology based on simple mechanical processes. None of your complex battery systems here. That, in turn, should help keep down the costs of maintenance, which can be very costly offshore.

This should give investors confidence to look at similar systems for their own schemes, regardless of what happens in Belgium. The technology is simple, reliable, cost effective and proven.

Just don't make out it's exciting. In this case, boring wins.

Do you know about Belgium’s energy island? No, it's not reality TV.

In early 2015, the Belgian government is set to decide whether GDF Suez subsidiary Electrabel and dredging firm DEME can build a ring-shaped North Sea ‘energy island’. The idea of the project is to ‘store’ excess energy generated from offshore wind farms.

The notion of building an ‘energy island’ in the sea may sound like an outlandish project dreamt up by a Middle Eastern sheikh, but the project is not that fanciful. The proposed technology is one of the most cost-effective types of energy storage, and most importantly, it could boost returns for investors in nearby offshore wind farms.

The idea borrows from the hydroelectric sector.

In short, the island would be built from sand 3km off the Belgian coast, and the hole in the middle would be filled with water.

At times of excess offshore wind power generation, electricity would be used to pump the water out; and, when the power supply drops, water would be allowed to flow back in; generating power from hydroelectric turbines as it goes.

So, in actual fact, it isn’t storing anything. Rather, it uses excess energy from wind farms to power a process that can produce more energy when the wind isn’t blowing. The Belgian government has said it would take five years to build, so it could be with us by 2020.

Spending extra money on offshore wind energy storage may look counterintuitive to what offshore wind developers are trying to do: reduce the cost of projects. Indeed, Dong Energy and Vattenfall have both committed to cut 40% of the cost of offshore wind farms by 2020. In the short term, these ‘energy islands’ would add cost.

However, there's a far bigger opportunity here in long-term revenue regeneration. Investing in tech that enables a more consistent and predictable electricity supply from offshore wind means that the long-term viability and value of the projects increase.

That has huge ramifications for prospective power purchasers, whereby greater certainty of supply is often a far more valuable concept than peak power alone. In essence, it’s all pretty positive.

We have just one concern: managing the excitement. Seriously.

This is an exciting development and represents a big opportunity for offshore wind investors. However, to get backing from the Belgian government it will need to look safe, simple and boring. Reliability is more compelling then recklessness or razzmatazz.

If offshore wind investors want to get support for such schemes on their own projects then they will need to emphasis that this is a known technology based on simple mechanical processes. None of your complex battery systems here. That, in turn, should help keep down the costs of maintenance, which can be very costly offshore.

This should give investors confidence to look at similar systems for their own schemes, regardless of what happens in Belgium. The technology is simple, reliable, cost effective and proven.

Just don't make out it's exciting. In this case, boring wins.

Do you know about Belgium’s energy island? No, it's not reality TV.

In early 2015, the Belgian government is set to decide whether GDF Suez subsidiary Electrabel and dredging firm DEME can build a ring-shaped North Sea ‘energy island’. The idea of the project is to ‘store’ excess energy generated from offshore wind farms.

The notion of building an ‘energy island’ in the sea may sound like an outlandish project dreamt up by a Middle Eastern sheikh, but the project is not that fanciful. The proposed technology is one of the most cost-effective types of energy storage, and most importantly, it could boost returns for investors in nearby offshore wind farms.

The idea borrows from the hydroelectric sector.

In short, the island would be built from sand 3km off the Belgian coast, and the hole in the middle would be filled with water.

At times of excess offshore wind power generation, electricity would be used to pump the water out; and, when the power supply drops, water would be allowed to flow back in; generating power from hydroelectric turbines as it goes.

So, in actual fact, it isn’t storing anything. Rather, it uses excess energy from wind farms to power a process that can produce more energy when the wind isn’t blowing. The Belgian government has said it would take five years to build, so it could be with us by 2020.

Spending extra money on offshore wind energy storage may look counterintuitive to what offshore wind developers are trying to do: reduce the cost of projects. Indeed, Dong Energy and Vattenfall have both committed to cut 40% of the cost of offshore wind farms by 2020. In the short term, these ‘energy islands’ would add cost.

However, there's a far bigger opportunity here in long-term revenue regeneration. Investing in tech that enables a more consistent and predictable electricity supply from offshore wind means that the long-term viability and value of the projects increase.

That has huge ramifications for prospective power purchasers, whereby greater certainty of supply is often a far more valuable concept than peak power alone. In essence, it’s all pretty positive.

We have just one concern: managing the excitement. Seriously.

This is an exciting development and represents a big opportunity for offshore wind investors. However, to get backing from the Belgian government it will need to look safe, simple and boring. Reliability is more compelling then recklessness or razzmatazz.

If offshore wind investors want to get support for such schemes on their own projects then they will need to emphasis that this is a known technology based on simple mechanical processes. None of your complex battery systems here. That, in turn, should help keep down the costs of maintenance, which can be very costly offshore.

This should give investors confidence to look at similar systems for their own schemes, regardless of what happens in Belgium. The technology is simple, reliable, cost effective and proven.

Just don't make out it's exciting. In this case, boring wins.

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Not a member yet?

Become a member of the 6,500-strong A Word About Wind community today, and gain access to our premium content, exclusive lead generation and investment opportunities.