A storage power plant on the seabed. Norwegian research scientists will contribute to realising the concept of storing electricity at the bottom of the sea. The energy will be stored with the help of high water pressure.
The idea of an underwater pumped hydroelectric power plant may sound like Jules Verne fiction, but then it was hatched by a German engineer who has spent much of his professional life working in aerospace technology.
“Imagine opening a hatch in a submarine under water. The water will flow into the submarine with enormous force. It is precisely this energy potential we want to utilize,” explains Rainer Schramm, inventor and founder of the company Subhydro AS to Gemini.no. “Many people have launched the idea of storing energy by exploiting the pressure at the seabed, but we are the first in the world to apply a specific patent-pending technology to make this possible,” he adds. He has joined forces with SINTEF in order to realize the concept. “SINTEF has experts in the fields of energy generation, materials technology and not least offshore and deep-water technology, which means we have all the expertise we need in one place,” says the German inventor. To use the water pressure at the sea bed in practice, the mechanical energy is converted by a reversible pump turbine, as in a normal pumped storage hydroelectric plant. “A pumped storage power plant is a hydroelectric plant which can be “charged” up again by pumping the water back to the upper reservoir once it has passed through a turbine. This type of power plant is used as a “battery”, when connected to the power grid,” the inventor explains.
In this pumped storage power plant turbine will be connected to a tank on the seabed at a depth of 400-800 metres. The turbine is fitted with a valve, and when this is opened, water flows in and starts turning the turbine. The turbine drives a generator to produce electricity. One can connect as many tanks as one wishes. In other words, it is the number of water tanks that decides how long the plant can generate electricity, before the energy storage capacity is exhausted.