Two breakthroughs in renewable energy have been pioneered in combination by John Douglas; an investment banker with many renewable energy start-ups under his belt.
Together, the two technologies in combination could provide the wind power deployment equivalent of the invention of the coal-fired steam electric power station, which – in tandem with the railroad to deliver the coal – changed power generation in the 19th century.
1. Transmission Developers would provide electricity transmission in underwater cables (previous story this week), that can be lain in aqueducts, flooded quarries, riverbeds and lakes, or down ocean coastlines – clearing the one big hindrance to the development of renewable energy, which is the new transmission needed, and the NIMBYism that succeeds in preventing that from being built, because these would be out of sight, under water.
2. The other, Riverbank Power – an equally innovative breakthrough, would provide a complete solution to storing wind power (previous story) effectively making it dispatchable base-load power.In 2008, with the proceeds from the sale of a wind company: Ventus Energy, investment banker John Douglas created this innovative pair of companies that could radically advance wind power, by solving the two biggest impediments to more wind power: the NIMBYism that stops transmission from being built, and the need for storage for wind power.
Riverbank Power pioneered underground storage for wind power, which is a form of hydro-electric pumped storage, except in reverse. By reversing pumped storage, the RiverBank technology has none of the environmental defects of hydro electric power, (and thus normal pumped storage up hills) because the storage is underground, instead of up a hill.
Huge, multi billion-dollar underground hydroelectric generating stations are capable of storing Gigawatts of power, without the environmental issues of above-ground hydro-electricity for storage.
RiverBank’s Aquabank technology works by gradually diverting some of the water at the bottom of a river (or a flooded quarry, lake or coastal water) slowly into a reservoir.
Fine gratings and a slow initial intake prevent fish habitat destruction, and the reservoir is slowly filled with this supply of potential hydro power.
Then when extra power is needed on the grid during the day – the reservoir gates are released so gravity dumps the water into a special cavern underneath, where it turns turbines to make hydro-electric power during the day, and sends that power to the grid.
Then, when there is too much wind power coming onto the grid for demand, typically at night, wind power is used to run the pump to send it back up to ground level, and then to ease it slowly back into the original waterway.
So, it uses hydro power for storage, just like pumping water up hills to store wind power, except in reverse: dropping the water below ground level. This very promising technology solves the environmental defects that have so far have disqualified hydro electricity as a form of renewable energy.
Riverbank already has fifteen possible pumped storage sites in the works with the usually notoriously slow and cumbersome FERC. Of the first three now being reviewed for geological and environmental suitability, one, a 1 GW project in Wiscasset, Maine, is looking very promising.
Together the two companies could speed the deployment of wind power.
Image: Flikr user Texas Finn
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