More height, greater efficiency, and more power: That is the aspiration behind Max Bögl Wind AG and their hybrid towers for wind power plants. The pioneering spirit of this Bavarian company is now in full view in the town of Gaildorf near Stuttgart, home of the world’s tallest onshore wind turbine. Located in the Limpurg Hills with a hub height of 178 meters and a total height of 246.5 meters, this wind turbine is a clear sign that Max Bögl Wind AG is pushing the boundaries when it comes to harvesting wind energy.
This height record is possible in part due to the natural water reservoir built into the turbine. The wind farm in Gaildorf is not just any wind farm, but one based on a totally new power plant concept – the water battery – a technological innovation that is setting new industry standards. For the first time ever, power generation from renewable energy is combined with a modern pumped-storage power plant. This new storage concept uses the foundation of the wind turbine as a water reservoir, which results in a 40-meter increase in the height of the turbine. This is hugely beneficial because each additional meter of hub height added to a wind turbine increases the annual energy yield by 0.5 to 1%. High hub heights mean less wind turbulence and significantly better wind yield, especially for inland locations with weak wind conditions.
The world’s tallest wind turbine is part of a wind farm that consists of four wind turbines with hub heights ranging from 155 to 178 meters. Equipped with 3.4-MW generators from GE, they will begin supplying clean energy to the German power grid in spring 2018. “Our 3MW category platform is extremely flexible and optimized for high energy yield. We are very happy that our customized solution for the GE 3.4-137 has helped to achieve this record,” says Andreas von Bobart, General Manager of GE Renewable Energy Onshore Wind Deutschland.
By one estimate, more than 10-gigawatt hours will be generated each year, enough electricity to power 2,500 four-person households. Max Bögl Wind AG is thus playing its part in making sure the energy transition succeeds. After all, the stated goal of the German federal government is to increase the share of renewable energy sources for power generation to 50%. It currently lies at 38%. “Without large-scale and forward-looking projects and ideas, the energy transition in Germany cannot succeed. With the water battery and hybrid towers, we are making wind energy a more attractive and efficient source of clean energy while also setting new records,” remarks Josef Knitl, Board Member at Max Bögl Wind AG.
The mayor of Gaildorf, Frank Zimmermann adds: “In our town and throughout the region, we are investing in our common future in a very ambitious yet sensible way. Thanks to the innovative power plant concept, we are proud to be at the forefront of the energy transition – one of the most important transitions of our age.”
Innovative power sources and storage
The foundations of the wind turbine towers in Gaildorf are water reservoirs with a storage capacity of 70-megawatt-hours (MWh). A penstock connects them with a hydroelectric power station and its lower reservoir located 200 meters deeper into the valley. The water battery, which was also referred to as natural power storage in the Gaildorf pilot project, can store surplus power from the grid and release it when necessary. It acts as a short-term storage facility and helps maintain grid stability while guaranteeing a continuous, uninterrupted supply of power. The pumped-storage plant is able to switch between production and storage within 30 seconds.