The idea of the project is a micro pumping-turbine implemented in existing urban buildings, where the demand is and where the problems are. Pumped turbining is a method of storing water by pumping it into a storage reservoir when energy demand is low and turbining it when demand is high. In addition to storage, pumped turbining enables disruptions in the power grid caused by intermittent distributed renewable generation injections to be regulated. With this innovative concept, several challenges can be met: network regulation, local storage and maximisation of self-consumption of renewable energies.

The principle is to move away from the traditional scheme that uses the topology of a natural site and instead focus on the operation of existing urban infrastructure such as buildings or civil engineering structures. Operating in a closed circuit with dedicated reservoirs, two main approaches are envisaged:

  • Exploiting the proposed difference in the height of buildings by installing an upstream reservoir on their rooftops, connected by a vertical drop to the downstream reservoir.
  • Exploit the vertical drop between a bridge and the ground. The upstream reservoir would be built into the bridge deck. This hydraulic battery could replace a traditional battery.

This project brings together the skills of four disciplines:

  • Power grids: Nicolas Jordan (HEI) will analyse the impact on grids and the integrated energy management of renewable sources.
  • Civil engineering: Mylène Devaux (HEIA-FR) will provide answers to the questions of structural resistance, the possibilities of creating reservoirs and their impact on the seismic behaviour of the structure.
  • Hydraulics: Cécile Münch-Alligné (HEI) will propose hydraulic machines adapted to this new production application.
  • Sustainable development: Dominique Bollinger (HEIG-VD) will compare the life cycle of the hydraulic battery solution with other storage solutions, from the point of view of environmental impacts avoided. An economic assessment will also be proposed.