It is already easy to make out the outline of the active and passive reservoirs around three of the four wind turbines. At the construction site for WEA 3, the passive reservoir with a diameter of 63 metres is already finished, while the active reservoir is currently being built there. The site which was once designed in a small group and could previously only be imagined in photo montages, is now becoming an impressive reality. If everything continues to go according to plan, the highest wind turbines in the world will be put into operation at the end of 2017 in the Limpurg mountains with a total height of up to 240 metres. The wind yield is therefore a whole 20 percent higher than from other systems.The active and passive reservoirs are used to store wind energy and a pressurised pipeline connects them to the lower water reservoir down in the valley, with a pumped-storage plant located between the two sites. The water is also to be used as source of heat energy and – by the way – for local recreation too.
International interest in the pilot project
The public interest in the natural power storage is also growing as the construction work progresses: In May and November of last year, interested visitors were allowed to get their own impression of the current state in guided tours of the construction site. The concept was presented to a wide expert audience at WindEnergy Hamburg, the world's leading trade fair for wind energy. A contract with GE Wind to deliver four 3.4 MW wind turbines with a rotor diameter of 137 metres was also signed there. The international press also received – in the truest sense of the word – wind of this high-tech project. For example, both Turkish and American journalists have already made reports about the natural power storage. The interest is not surprising: The special nature of this project is not only the unique combination of a modern pumped-storage plant with a powerful wind farm, but also the combination of virtually all of the company’s disciplines. This makes the natural power storage a pure Max Bögl project which numerous company divisions and specialists departments are working on or involved in, from earth construction, special foundation engineering, structural engineering, right through to precast assembly, tower construction and mechanical engineering. This coexistence minimises the need for coordination, ensures a great deal of efficiency and a tremendous depth of value creation – and brings the entire construction team together. The shared euphoria for the unique project drives the team forward around Alexander Schechner, idea generator and partner of Naturspeicher GmbH, and project manager Johannes Kaltner from Max Bögl. The positive response to the innovative project gives an additional boost.
Standardisation for future projects
The natural power storage in Gaildorf is not the end of the story of course: All the knowledge that is gained from this pilot project is to be used for the future standardisation of such plants to then be able to market them well. The planning costs, which are still very high for a such a unique project, are then close to zero. 20 engineers are currently working on the development of technical innovations at the site in Ulm; these innovations are required for future standardisation. Even if it will take a little less than a year until the whole plant is commissioned – you can already feel the wind of the awakening of the "energy future", which begins in Gaildorf.