20 years until decommissioning or built to last lifetimes?

Europe has a 2000 year history of building survivable constructions, Roman aqueducts and roads, castles, monasteries, channels, railroads, highways, skyscrapers, the Eiffel tower, the Atomium, and more recently the Dutch Deltaworks and the Chunnel. All these constructions were built to last lifetimes, some intentionally, other less so.

And if we believe NASA, in a not so near future, we will even be able to build the famous space elevator Arthur C. Clarke imagined.

But what about current windmills and wind farms, what is their estimated lifecycle?

The world´s first offshore turbine passed into history after faithfully providing its services for our benefit for a bit longer than 20 years. What is striking is the short life of this construction, 20 years! It does not seem very long in relation to the investment made. We know that technology advances at an astonishing speed, and for a PC or phone model 20 years is an unimaginable long life. However, for a system with such a high cost and serious implications, 20 years can be considered too short a duration. I believe we all expect at least several lifetimes or more, like the artefacts mentioned earlier.

In this context, is there anything that can be done so that if not all, at least a considerable part of the initial investment survives the test of time? Maintenance activities are obviously needed, but not a complete dismantling of the whole wind farm. That is if we design it smartly!

The Wind Energy System, Wind-Dam, proposes a modular construction model, making it possible to replace parts, and not the whole construction. The Wind Dam system itself proposes an optimised, maybe smaller turbine, attached on a mesh of very resistant cables hung between very high towers. Most probably in a few years’ time these newly designed turbines will be replaced by more powerful ones, and the cables possibly replaced by nanotube based technologies. However, our proposed modular approach allows for keeping up with the technological advances at a comparably very low cost. The aim of this proposal is to build a highly resistant structure, not only being able to bear the weight of the turbines, but also for surviving the strains of nature for up to 200 years, or even for considerably longer. The turbines, if it were necessary, can be replaced by ones that have a higher performance, without having to dismantle the whole structure. Also, the superstructure and mesh can be replaced by lighter, stronger and more durable versions as the (nano)technologies become available.

The implemented Wind-Dam will not only save decommissioning costs, such as having to destroy the undersea foundations, but also the related environmental cost.

This is what we call sustainable investment and sustainable development.

Adrian Rapas, Inventor

The real wind energy problem

The design of a Wind power system should answer a correct wind energy problem. Many actions are taken today, but without addressing the right wind energy problem. It seems that we are running like headless chickens! On the one side we have targets from the EU political bodies, on the other side we have many industry initiatives to show how big and bigger turbines we can build.

The right Wind Energy Problem/the right wind energy question

Before going any further with overcoming the limits of materials for building turbines with more than 160 meters long windmills, the Wind-Dam proposes to stop and think about what we want from a wind energy system?

Do we want it to deliver energy only when there is wind? or do we want an independent wind energy system? Do we want to have electricity also when the wind doesn’t blow? I believe or at least I hope that the answer to this question is yes!

Many people are worried and taking actions to increase the percentage of total energy consumption covered by wind energy. We see so many initiatives, so many companies and private persons, so many public sector institutions, national and regional energy agencies, and public private partnerships. However, relatively little progress is to be seen, and so far, the problem of stopping current fossils based power stations has not been asked.

The question is:

Do we ask the right question when designing wind parks, and wind turbines, Do we address the root cause of the wind energy problem? Have we identified the right problem to which the wind parks shall answer?

wind energy problem
WIND DAM INDEPENDENT WIND ENERGY SYSTEM

Read the Could wind power systems replace fossils based power stations? industry paper to find out which is the correct wind energy problem that the design of the wind energy systems should answer!

Viable Wind Energy

The Wind-Dam brings an essential contribution to achieving the Energy Union objective by designing a viable wind energy system that is able to cater for the current and future energy needs.  By looking at the  traditional power stations, we notice in fact that the characteristics of the energy carrying agent determine their viability.

Could we design a viable wind energy system with a view to offsetting the existing energy plants?

First, let us examine which attributes determine the viability of the traditional power systems. Existing power plants can be classified based on the type of primary energy carrying agent:

a) Thermal (coal, oil, natural gas).

Any type of fossil fuel electric power plant always implies a stock of energy carrying agent. The energy is liberated by a chemical transformation. It passes through several transformations, until finally reaches a state of effective energy. The stock allows fossil-based power plants to regulate the amount of energy carrying agent consumed in function of the energy demand.  This means fossil-based power plants are flexible due to a stock of energy carrying agent. These plants work independently and are predictable as they can supply energy according to the pre-established amount of energy demand expected.

Independence, flexibility, and predictability make fossil fuel plants a viable power generating system, as are atomic power plants.

b) Hydroelectric power plants

The water is the energy carrying agent. It carries potential energy, which is accumulated in a natural way, under the action of the gravitational force in a dam. This energy will be transformed into kinetic energy by a turbine. A generator is the charged that produces electric energy. In this case, the transformation chain is shorter and therefore the process is more efficient.

Conclusion:

A stock of energy carrying agent provides the system with several very important characteristics: independence, flexibility and predictability. These qualities ensure the viability of the system. They are of utmost importance because they form the basis of the technological progress.

Can we create a stock of wind?

Find out more at the Wind Energy Summit,  Hamburg:  Adrian Rapas Poster 210

Negative energy prices

Temporary overproduction of electric energy leads to negative energy prices.  This is the consequence of not addressing the real wind energy problem and keep investing in wind parks. We have already seen negative prices in Germany few times due to the random character of wind.

Can you imagine that? To be paid for consuming electricity? On the one side, as consumers, we are for sure all happy about this. On the other side for the investors and the companies that are exploiting and maintaining the installations, I doubt this is a pleasant experience.  Yes, that is true. Consumers are paid – incentivised – to consume the temporary excess in energy which results in the energy supplier making an economic loss.  Would you invest in such a business?

On top of that, against this temporary overproduction and negative price stands the increase in oil prices. This can generate a higher energy cost, as well as a higher energy price and margin to compensate for the negative price. Furthermore, highly polluting sources like charcoal and nuclear plants are being closed and dismantled. The result is an unpredictable and highly fluctuating energy price, despite the availability of abundant renewable resources! This looks like the beginning of an energy crisis to me…

energy crisis because of wind parks
streets illumination

                                                               

The upcoming energy crisis may last generations if no impact actions and  important decisions are taken now!

Facts

Wind parks and solar parks are not conceived to be primary sources of energy. They were and still are designed as an auxiliary resource for classical power plants.

We must transform wind energy parks and solar energy parks into truly independent, continuous and constant sources of energy.  We need to rethink the the design and planning of wind installations, especially how and where the wind is harvested, how excess energy can be stored and how we can access it when needed.

Currently large quantities of electric energy should be stored in batteries of accumulators at very low efficiency rates and at very high costs. Photo-voltaic panels are not a viable and sustainable solution either for the same reasons.

The Wind-Dam team is committed to challenge and resolve the current energy problem with our solution. 

Do you agree that we need to take action now?

The detailed calculations and explanations are discussed in the Wind-Dam industry paper submitted for the #GlobalWind2018

32% in renewables is not the correct problem

32% from renewable sources is not the correct energy problem. The percentage of existing installed power to be replaced by renewables is the real energy problem.

The percentage of installed power in exhaustible fuel power plants to be replaced by renewable source power stations is the real energy problem to be addressed by the EU Energy policy. 

Nothing was known about this percentage until now, simply because this problem was not addressed. When the real problem is defined, meaning the complete decommissioning of classical power plants, only then can it be said that sustainable, viable solutions are being sought.  Unfortunately, the current suggested solutions are just palliative.

There has been no clear data about this percentage until now. This problem has not been addressed from a global and holistic perspective. Calculating the cost of the complete decommissioning of classical power plants and installing renewable systems is at best done by energy providers and some National Governments. However, there seems to be a lack of EU policy to support a full conversion using sustainable and viable solutions.

This palliative planning needs to be offset by policies and incentives that speed up the process of adopting renewable source power stations and significantly increase their corresponding percentage of the total energy budget.

Regardless of the percentage of energy they supply, both hydroelectric and wind energy systems can function only as auxiliaries to the thermo-electric power plants. The proposed increase in the percentage of renewable energy will not change the fact that they will always be considered as back-up systems rather than the main source.

The Wind-Dam is a different way of thinking wind energy. It may be a viable alternative. The Wind-Dam solution design departs from the need to supply an amount of wind energy installed power able to supply the expected amount of energy also when the wind doesn’t blow!!!

Can you imagine that? Wind energy without wind?

Wind parks do not guarantee constant supply of electricity

Setting the objective that by 2030 32% of produced energy should stem from renewable sources does not address the real problem. A sustainable solution for the replacement of exhaustible primary energy resources will not be reached unless the energy policy is changed significantly!

In order to provide a continuous supply of energy, classical power plants cannot be dismantled even though the target to produce renewable energy is set above 100% because wind parks do not guarantee constant supply of electricity

Why?

Simply because the wind is not a predictable and thus not reliable source of energy. Wind energy produced in the currently designed wind parks depends on the action of the wind. So, if we have wind, we have over production, and if there is no wind, we use candles to lighten our houses. How romantic, right?! Even with abundant financial resources available the real energy problem remains unsolved.

Energy needs to be supplied continuously and constantly even though its consumption varies randomly in time and volume. The challenge lies in predicting the consumption and distributing the energy to where and when it is needed. Although renewable energies – like water, wind and sun – can tap into nature´s unlimited quantities of energy, they cannot be supplied in a continuous and constant way. The water accumulated in hydroelectric dams varies seasonally, wind varies over time and so does sunlight.

The Wind-Dam proposes as solution to compensates this discontinuity by taking advantage of when the energy is abundant, storing it and then regulating its release when there is less available.

What can we store?

Definitely not the wind! In the case of wind turbines, there is no possibility of a permanent supply of a combustible primary energy carrying agent. Consequently, these systems cannot operate independently like thermoelectric power plants do. Thermoelectric power plants use a combustible fuel, which even if it is not supplied continuously still covers the consumption. Therefore, the thermoelectric power plants are and will remain the only self-sufficient, secure systems with an unlimited source of electric energy that are able to work independently. Only thermoelectric power plants can tap into natural resources and secure an unlimited, continuous and constant energy flow, even though they cause a high level of pollution. Unlike hydroelectric power plants, wind and solar farms, the thermoelectric plants depend on the availability of a continuous energy source (coal, oil, gas, nuclear).

There is a widespread consensus that any viable energy system based on renewable energies will need to find a way to capture and store energy to compensate for the discontinuity of the primary energy source (water, wind and sun).

The Wind-Dam is such a viable energy system! It answer the 3 main characteristics of an energy system: independent of the wind or any other factors, flexible because the yield can be upscaled and downscaled in function of the consuptions needs, and predictable, because it can deliver a pre-established amount of energy.

So what can we store?

Belgium’s energy independence

What if we could provide Belgium with complete energy independence?

Currently Belgium has 6 – outdated – nuclear power plants, totalling an installed energy power of 6000 MW.

500 Million Euros would be needed to decommission each of these plants, which does not include the cost of safely storing the nuclear waste for a long period. This is at least 3 Billion Euros for palliative nuclear care.

Belgium has a capacity of 2200 MW at its shores and wishes to create an area with a capacity for another 1800 MW.

Assuming that Belgium currently has a need of about 16000 MW to support its energy consumption, there would be a shortfall of about 12000 MW of wind-based energy if the nuclear power plants were discarded entirely.

We believe that our Wind-Dam concept may be a viable alternative to be considered for construction in the new area. Our lowest calculations for the same sea surface show a five to ten fold increase in energy yield, i.e. 9000 to 18000 MW as compared to the current planned estimations.

Would it not be worth doing some further research? Perhaps a few millions borrowed from the nuclear decommissioning budgets to be made available for Belgian research institutions to at least evaluate the option?

Belgium could be a pilot for the rest of Europe – and at the head of the race again – should there be positive results!

We are planning to address this at the highest Belgian and EU levels possible. Come and support us!

Energy storage at the very core of the new energy system

Energy storage at the very core of the new energy system. This statement was made during the 4th Energy summit in Brussels 12th April 2018.

We could not agree more. There are already many examples of negative energy prices, where the grid overproduced energy and then the producers paid consumers to use the surplus energy.

Essentially this negative price is an issue originating from the high, although infrequent and intermittent, production of clean energy (wind, water and sun).

How to create continuous availability of clean energy sources?

There are several means to store energy.

We could use batteries, like Tesla is doing, however such batteries still have a carbon-footprint given the materials used to construct them, and there is the problem of their eventual disposal.

Hydrogen cells could be a solution as well.

More and more households have their own solar power and heat-pump solutions, and some even operate a small windmill. However, these are used to reduce their consumption and dependence on the main grid. The possibility exists of course, that the household electricity surplus could be sold back to the provider.

But will this not create the same negative price issue further down the chain?

Now, what if a regional centre could be built, into which this household surplus is re-routed using smart grids, smart meters and smart contract solutions?

Cities and communities could invest in hydrogen storage and combustion sites next to solar and wind farms, or even convert existing sites.

Hydrogen could either be acquired from larger sites (like our Wind-Dam) or produced onsite if there were an ample water supply. The hydrogen could be produced and stored when households have an energy surplus i.e. sell electricity to produce and store hydrogen. The stored hydrogen could then be converted into electricity when there is a local demand for extra energy.

For example, households could build up an electricity credit for what they provided to the regional centre and use that credit when they need extra electricity, or for other utilities – water, telecommunications and even environmentally friendly transportation solutions like electric car rental services.

This suggests the founding of an “IT” platform in which the demand and supply between consumers and producers, either households or companies, are managed and properly regulated by EU directives.

Store hydrogen and design a truly reliable wind energy system? The Wind-Dam may be a solution for that!

Wind-Dam energy system – 4th EU Energy Summit

The Wind-Dam energy system team took part in 4th EU Energy Summit in Brussels, @EUEnergySummit. Many useful and inspiring topics were presented and debated.

The focus of the second plenary session was on “Blue energy”, a concept coined for ocean and river energy.

Fact: Waves have a 2-3 day delay after a storm. Indeed, combining the two forms of energy means maximising all potential energy in the areas where the Wind-Dams are placed. The turbines capture wind energy at the top of the Wind-Dam, while at the sea level, devices currently under development, could capture the “blue” energy of the waves.

Let us speak and envisage how this co-creation of Europe’s energy independence becomes reality.

This is not only innovation, but when two completely innovative ways at looking at clean energy come together, what can we call that? TOTAL innovation!

Adrian Rapas, Inventor

Decarbonisation and deuranisation of energy

Wind Power is indeed the cheapest option and Europe is the recognised leader in Wind Power related technologies and expertise. It is even becoming an export product. But why limit ourselves to 35%, we can surely do more and better with the right solutions.

We invite the industry to have a closer look at the Wind-Dam concept as we believe that applying our solution could result in achieving a much higher ratio of renewable energy by 2030 than is currently envisaged. In fact, we either have 100% wind energy, or we have nothing.

Decarbonisation of energy

The @EUEnergySummit calls for a decarbonisation of energy. We even dare to go one step further: not only decarbonisation, but also de-uranisation.

After about 50 years of Nuclear Power can we afford another disaster (Three Miles Island, Tshernobyl and Fukushima)? Can we afford to store nuclear waste securely and for generations? Can we afford to maintain older nuclear sites that are showing wear (cracks in concrete, piping issues etc…) Is it worth the cost and effort to recycle nuclear waste and convert nuclear sites for future use? Is the promise of Nuclear Fusion (e.g. ITER project) going to be able to deliver a solution before we have exhausted all other natural resources and let nature go to waste?

We already understand the effect that burning fossil fuels have on the environment and are taking action. Why not include taking care of the nuclear issues as well?

We have no proof that the way we store the radioactive by-products of fission energy is going to be sustainable over longer periods, especially without the costly monitoring and controls which only wealthy countries can afford.

Decarbonisation can be achieved by tapping into the Earth´s natural resources as our ancestors used to do and which we have mastered with advanced technology. Sun, wind, geothermal sources and water (being water powered or hydrogen derived) is where we must focus in order to have a sustainable and environmentally friendly solution.

Our Wind-Dam is THE key component if we want to achieve decarbonisation and de-uranisation at a much faster pace than currently envisaged. We invite you to have a closer look at our approach and after having read and shared our vision we look forward to hearing from you soon.