With very humble means, we have been able to solve some of the major obstacles, such as developing a suitable, low cost, dense fluid, and launching a patenting process, and we are prepared to focus on the remaining one: the H=300 meter / 1000 cubic meter prototype and test bench that will take us to TRL 8-9 later in 2021 or 2022. This is only possible with a lot of help from many people who provided insights, warnings, encouragement, material support and small amounts of money (but not very much, good beggars must remain poor!).
We have been blessed with help from experts who are the source of everything that is good in our project. We have obtained competitive financing from IDEPA / Government of Asturias.
Clean Storage is the key to unlocking renewables
Renewable energy generation is ALREADY clean and affordable. The missing part is CLEAN, large scale and affordable energy storage.
OUR CONCEPT IN A NUTSHELL
Unconventional pumped hydro
Pumped hydro dominates large scale energy storage, and that is unlikely to change, because large scale hydro is in a class of its own: Where else can we find 10, 15, even 20 GW name plate projects? 80% round trip efficiency with no downgrading for decades? Unfortunately, large hydropower projects have a very large footprint, displacing human and wildlife populations. We look for high head locations to get high power even with low flow rates, and we multiply head by using dense fluids that are inert, safe to use and low cost.
We take advantage of our dense fluids to use underground cavities to generate and store energy while keeping pumps, turbines and electrical equipment on the surface, so there is no need to service equipment underground.
We do not need dams or reservoirs and we can compete with conventional pumped hydro in cost if we have access to dumpsite materials for our dense fluids and to underground caverns in competent rock. Onkalo in Finland shows that mines can be built for reasons other than extraction of ores.
Straight from the Nuclear Era
SHELL Internationale almost got there in 1986!
Their project was only stopped when the Dutch nuclear program was shelved because of the Chernobyl disaster. The technology landscape has improved very much and it is possible to consider even more ambitious designs nowadays.
An exciting time to propose creative solutions
Technological change accelerates. Renewables are cost leaders, storage is ready to boost them, Long distance subsea HVDC transmission is at hand. Demographic depletion in western Iberia mandates swift action before it’s too late, governments and industry are already reacting: Alto Támega, Portugal / Spain international agreement to foster renewables and strengthen connections. Bold ideas are proposed: XLinks.co , suncable.sg . Europe is small: International cooperation is necessary to get diversified, uncorrelated and competitive clean power. Xlinks.co propose to export African PV to the UK. There is no need to go that far, an Iberia – North Sea connection would allow two way trade of energy, a more resilient grid, and more profitable investments.
THE SILVER ROAD
(Tartessus to Cassiterides) becomes electric
The Silver Road started as a Bronze Age land and sea trade route from copper and silver rich Tartessus in southwestern Iberia, northwards to the Cantabrian Sea and on to Britain, where tin was mined in Cornwall and Devon to make bronze.
More than two millennia after that, we have a historic opportunity to trade power along the Silver Road, help decarbonize and develop western European economies, and reverse demographic decline in many regions.
From Asturias to the Guadiana Basin, extensive areas have less than 8 inhabitants per square kilometer, in some of the best land in Europe for clean, renewable generation and clean, renewable storage, close to the English Channel and the North Sea, but still far enough to have uncorrelated weather systems.
HELP IS NEEDED!
A new industry is born, with new inputs
Inert, insoluble dumpsite materials. They are the basis of our dense slurries. We would love to try to process them.
Existing, abandoned or planned underground mines: Maybe you can mine Ore + MWh!
Specialists technologists: Ultra High Head Hydro, Hard Rock and Salt Mechanics, Raise Boring, Mine Plugs…
PV and wind developers for hybrid projects. Supply PV after dusk, store the night wind.
Floating offshore wind developers needing dense, pumpable, low cost ballast, and willing to engage in innovative purchasing.
Governments: Development Agencies. Power Grid Operators. R+D+I institutions.
Foreign partners: The challenge is global, the team and the effort should also be global.
Every idea is welcome!
A bit of history
We are based in Asturias, 750 km due South from Cornwall across the English Channel and the Cantabrian Sea, in the heart of a coal and gold mining province with deep pits. The closure of the coal mines and their power plants has battered our economy, so we have to adapt and research new opportunities with great help from experienced mining engineers, local companies and the Asturian Development Agency. Massive escarpments exist in Asturias, both onshore, sufficiently close to recently abandoned underground mines, and offshore.
Geography is destiny: Asturias is the optimal southern port to exchange Iberian and North Sea renewable power, contributing resiliency and efficiency.
The medieval kingdom of Asturias, founded by a group of Christian goat herders and refugees in 718 AD to repel the Arab invasion of Visigoth Iberia, survived by winning the Battle of Covadonga more than 10 years before the Frankish leader Charles Martel won the Battle of Poitiers. Thus, Asturias is the direct antecessor of the Christian kingdoms of León (910 AD) and Castille (1065 AD), which in turn originated Portugal in 1139 AD and Spain in 1479 AD, and then expanded to Latin America, the Philippines, Mozambique, and many other places as remote as Juan de Fuca strait, Torres Strait, and the Strait of Magellan, the great Portuguese navigator who proposed his project for a westward route to Asia but failed to impress the King Manuel of Portugal because his country already controlled the eastward route, so Magellan’s project was perceived as competition at the time. Fortunately, some Spanish businessmen and civil servants helped him get support from the King of Spain and encouraged him to start his trip from Seville… Notes to Portugal: You guys owe us a favor or two! And: Portugal and Spain can achieve great things together!
Against all odds, 18 of the 239 brave souls managed to finish the westward circumnavigation. Magellan himself did not make it, he led from the front and died in an ambush in Mactán, Philippines.
Our company name also honors Willem Barents as an acknowledgement of Dutch input, by Shell in 1986 and by our dense fluid experts Global Ballast Contractors. Barents also tried to find a trade route to East Asia, his expedition discovered Svalbard and got closer to the North Pole than any European had, but 16th century technology was not adequate for the trip, the Northeast Passage is even today very challenging and was only completed some three centuries later by the keenly conditioned, hybrid sail/steam SS Vega of Finnish explorer Nordenskiöld.
Check our video…
…and other docsMagellan-Barents-EN-22.04.21-1