Hamburg - General Electric Company, through its GE Renewable Energy business, recently announced it has signed a Turbine Supply Agreement with Max Bögl Wind AG to deliver and commission the world’s tallest and first ever wind turbine integrated with pumped storage hydro-electric power. The full scope of the Gaildorf project, located in Germany’s Swabian-Franconian Forest on the Limpurger Berge uplands, will consist of 4 units of GE’s new 3.4-137 wind turbine technology and a 16 MW capacity pumped storage hydro-electric power plant, to be supplied under a separate agreement between Max Bögl, Naturspeicher and Voith. The base and surrounding area of each wind turbine tower will be used as a water reservoir, effectively increasing tower height by 40 meters. At a total tip height of 246.5 meters, once installed these units will become the tallest wind turbines in the world to date.
Anne McEntee, President & CEO of GE’s Onshore Wind business, said, “We are very excited to collaborate with Max Bögl on this pilot project; a first for the industry. We are committed to exploring innovative renewable energy technologies that have the potential to improve grid flexibility in Europe and around the world.”
The Gaildorf project marks a major step forward in balancing power demand and supply fluctuations using renewable energy sources. The combined wind and hydro power plant will provide balancing power for fast-response stabilization of the grid, maintaining a low cost of electricity for residents in Germany.
GE’s 3.4-137 wind turbine generators will sit at a hub height of 178 meters, while the lower 40 meters of each tower and its surrounding area will be utilized as active water reservoirs to store energy. A nearby valley, approximately 200 vertical meters below the wind turbines, will house an additional lake and a 16 MW capacity pump/generator hydro plant. During times of peak demand and high electricity prices, the hydro plant will be in production mode. During times of low electricity demand and lower prices, the hydro plant will be in pump mode, pumping and storing water–and hence energy–in the upper reservoir for later use. While the actual electricity produced by the wind turbines and the pumped storage unit will feed the wider grid, the net effect will be to use the stored hydro capacity to balance the intermittent nature of wind power through the optimal use of energy at different times of the day.
GE’s 3.4-137 machine is part of its new 3 MW wind platform, unveiled late last year; a platform well-suited for a variety of wind conditions throughout Europe. The new units feature software and analytics capabilities that are compatible with GE’s Digital Wind Farm ecosystem, powered by the Predix software platform.
The four wind turbines are expected to be commissioned by the end of 2017 and the full Gaildorf power plant is expected to be operational by the end of 2018.