2013-01-22

Co.Exist

Could A Donut-Shaped Island Create Permanent Renewable Energy?

A new plan from Belgium would use an island with a giant lake in the center to store power from wind farms for times when the wind isn’t blowing.

The term "artificial islands" invokes a sense of lavishness and environmental hubris: perhaps that’s because they often make headlines in the context of Dubai’s ambitions to create an archipelago of fake, vacation-home-filled islands in the shape of the world.

But in Belgium, planners are working on creating a sustainably oriented, donut-shaped island in the North Sea to serve as a storage point for wind energy, which otherwise can get wasted when demand for power flags, according to Reuters. Energywise explains the mechanics behind the project:

The principle here is pumped water storage. When wind farms generate more power than can be used, it would be sent to Crazy Belgian Donut Island (that’s my proposed name) and used to pump water out of the donut’s central reservoir. When demand is higher or the wind is lower, the water would be allowed to flow back into the reservoir, spinning turbines and regenerating the electricity to be sent back to the mainland. The planned site for the island is about 3 km off the Belgian coast.

It’s all part of Belgium’s long-term plan to eventually move completely away from nuclear energy, by ramping up wind farms. Right now, two nuclear plants in Belgium produce 3,000 megawatts of energy each. Wind farms in the North Sea could eventually replace up to 2,300 megawatts of that power.

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4 Comments

  • Jplafortune

    The future of energy will be produced on-demand and on-site. Dependance on big infrastructure is a pitfall we already encounter.

  • Zokcaveman

    Yes, crazy belgium donut island, located in Sector 7G of the North Sea. Homer Simpson can be the Safety Inspector.

    seriously, how much power is lost by pumping water out and then the efficiency loss of running the turbines? 

  • Nico

    The point is to use the excess power when the wind is blowing strong but demand is weak - in the middle of the night for instance. It's not about 'losing' power, it's about storing it for when it's needed