What do wind farms do when there is no wind…? Exactly! Now, in the Swabian-Franconian Forest in Germany, Max Bögl (Wind AG) and GE Renewable energy are pioneering new technology to address that issue. In recent work, they are combining their knowledge of wind-turbines and hydropower to create a new ‘Wind-Hydro’ hybrid turbine.
Their energy plant is strategically located on a sloping hill which means both wind and water can be used to propel the turbines (try to think of the wind turbines as sitting in constantly flowing water). Therefore, even when wind is not present, water can be used to turn the turbines instead. Currently, the turbines used are the tallest in the world. 584 feet (178 metres) tall. At their bases sit 1.6 million gallons of water in reservoirs (with additional water storage available over the entire site). Water continues to flow down the sloping hill generating hydro-electricity when wind is not available. This means that this wind-hydro plant can continually generate and harness power.
The Wind-Hydro hybrid plant is expected to generate 13.6 megawatts of energy whereas the hydroelectric plant 16 megawatts. This wind turbine should be able to connect to the German grid in 2017 with the hydropower plant operational in 2018. These renewable energy strategies will assist Germany in achieving a 45% renewable energy goal by 2030.