The ALPHEUS Team Analyzed Stakeholders Concerns Regarding the Low-Head PHS Technology

Within the WP5, ALPHEUS will propose adequate locations for the construction of low-head pumped hydro storage (PHS) stations in the North Sea. Current methods for location selection of large civil structures consider technical and environmental aspects.

However, the implementation of large civil structures can face opposition from the public, which in turn, can deal to delays, over budgeting and/or mistrust towards later projects. ALPHEUS developed a stakeholder questionnaire to gather general stakeholder concerns respecting the low-head PHS technology. The questionnaire was designed to provide insight into general stakeholder views about the low-head PHS technology. The goal of the questionnaire was twofold. First, to know whether stakeholders see low-head PHS as an attractive technology for solving the problem of energy storage during high production of renewable energy within the European grid. Second, to discover the major stakeholder concerns respecting location selection of the low-head PHS stations.

It was distributed to different stakeholders by the middle of November 2021 and kept accessible for participation until the end of February 2022. A total of twenty-nine different stakeholders participated in the analysis, including mainly private companies, governments and governmental organizations and local groups. Because to date, many stakeholders are still unaware of this novel sort of technology, they were provided with some basic information before starting answering the questionnaire.

In general, the respondents showed interest for the low-head pumped hydro storage technology. Three quarters of the survey respondents considered this technology to be quite interesting for solving the problem of energy storage that arises with more unpredictable, intermittent renewable energy generation. Then, the respondents’ major concerns were about safety of the whole structure and potential risks associated with failure of the structure posed to surrounding areas.

ALPHEUS is determining the conditions needed for a low-head PHS station to be safely built, such that in the event of a dike breach a flood wave will not impact the coast.

Ecological impact resulted also very important for all stakeholders. ALPHEUS is currently looking into fish friendly turbine designs, and the proposed locations for the site will follow the pertinent ecological regulations.

Concluding, the stakeholder feedback has been positive towards low-head pumped hydro storage. It seems that the ALPHEUS research follows the current concerns and demands of the analysed stakeholders. The mentioned stakeholder questionnaire is just the beginning of a broader stakeholder analysis. The stakeholder analysis will continue with the development and distribution of one more questionnaire and two, hopefully face-to-face, stakeholder meetings.

If you are interested in further details about the ALPHEUS project, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line.

Author: Ruben Ansorena Ruiz, MSc. Technische Universität Braunschweig, Leichtweiß-Institut für Wasserbau, Hydromechanics, Coastal and Ocean Engineering.