Blue Energy

Blue energy has a potential for sustainable energy generation. Energy can be generated from the difference in concentration between salt water and fresh water. The benefit of the blue energy technology is that it does not depend on external factors like wind or sun. With its knowledge about industrial flows, recirculation and the impact on the environment, Deltares contributes to the research into making blue energy a sustainable energy source for the future. We advise project developers about the optimal hydraulic design and control systems to minimise water and energy losses, promote robust operation and prevent water hammer. We also analyse the internal mixing of the systems based on local hydrodynamics. This can be used to optimise the energy output. Project developers and investors can turn to Deltares for the determination of the energy potential and feasibility. Contractors can use our research to save on costs and minimise risks during the design, construction and maintenance of blue energy power stations. In addition, policy makers and stakeholders can utilise our impact analyses and environmental studies to create support from society.

Lake IJssel Dike Blue Energy project

The first blue energy power station in the world, using Reverse ElectroDialysis (RED),  is located on the IJsselmeer Dam in the Netherlands. This pilot installation uses water from the Wadden Sea and the IJsselmeer and will provide knowledge about this energy generation method. To produce enough energy for the northern provinces of Friesland, Groningen and Drenthe, this technology would have to be scaled up. Together with the NIOZ and Wageningen Marine Research, Deltares is examining the ecological and economic effects of the consequences of a large-scale Blue Energy power station at the dike between Lake Ijssel and the Wadden Sea.

Experience with applying efficient blue energy power stations

Deltares has been conducting studies into various forms of power stations for over 40 years. System knowledge is essential for a sustainable and efficient blue energy power station. For example, differences in the fresh-salt water gradients can have a direct effect on the quantity of energy generated. That is why research into recirculation and plume dispersion is crucial for evaluating the fresh-salt water gradients at the power station’s inlet. Because several different fields overlap in blue energy, we evaluate these studies both separately and as a whole.

Research and recommendations for optimising blue energy

Our knowledge and experience in the field of blue energy are applied in the following areas:

  • Optimisation of energy generation
  • Optimisation of large-scale flows around the power station and local flows and controls inside the power station
  • Limiting negative environmental impacts
  • Preventing water hammer
  • Research into the effect on the environment
  • Operational control