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Climate change and energy

The World’s Tallest Wind Turbines Will Store Power in a Huge Water Battery

November 3, 2017

With their blades reaching 800 feet into the sky, these German windmills will help provide energy even when the wind doesn’t blow.

Back in May, we explained that the U.K. is currently home to the world’s tallest operating offshore wind turbines. Those can be found near the northwest coast of England at Burbo Bank. There, Dong Energy turbines sitting 350 feet above the surface of the water use 270-foot-long blades to scrape the air at a height of over 620 feet. Placing the turbine further into the sky reduces wind turbulence and in turn boosts efficiency.

On land, however, Windpower Engineering says that a project in Gaildorf, Germany, by Max Bögl Wind will take the crown as tallest when it goes online in 2018, with four turbines held at 580 feet whose blade tips reach over 800 feet into the sky. The bulk of that height difference is actually because the turbines were built on 130-foot-high water reservoirs. They will be used to hold water pumped from a nearby lake using spare energy, in order to create hydro power during periods of high demand.

Wind and pumped hydro storage are by no means new technologies, but their combination in this way is impressive. It’s thought that the system, which can switch from production to storage or vice versa within 30 seconds, will be able to store 70 megawatt-hours when it’s up and running.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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