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A team of Norwegian research scientists has unveiled a concept that could store energy on the seabed. Conceived by Subhydro AS, the underwater pumped hydroelectric power plant would use high water pressure to create and store electricity for later use on the shore.
Explaining the concept, Rainer Schramm, an inventor and founder of the company Subhydro AS said: “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.”
“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.”
Subhydro and SINTEF, who are energy generation experts, have joined forces on the project due to their expertise in deep-water technology.
“We have all the expertise we need in one place,” said Schramm.”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 undersea storage power plant turbine will be connected to a tank on the seabed at a depth of 400-800 meters. 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.
“We envisage that this type of storage plant will function well in conjunction with, for example, wind farms. At strong wind conditions, excess electricity is sent subsea to pump water out of the storage tanks. In periods with little wind, energy can be obtained from this underwater plant instead. The same applies to solar generation: the pumped storage power station can contribute to constant electricity production at night time when there is no sunshine to run a solar power plant,” added Rainer Schramm.