The Anonymous Widower

The New Generation Of Pumped Storage Systems

This excellent article on GreenTechMedia is entitled The 5 Most Promising Long-Duration Storage Technologies Left Standing.

One of the technologies the article discusses is pumped storage, which in the UK is used at the massive Electric Mountain in Snowdonia, which can hold 9.1 GWh of electricity and supply up to 1,800 MW of electricity when needed. That’s not bad for 1970s engineering!

The GreenTechMedia article introduces pumped storage like this.

Midcentury modern design is hot again, so why not midcentury storage technology? This gravity-based concept physically moves water from a low to a high reservoir, from which the water descends, when needed, to generate electricity. This dates from way before lithium-ion’s heyday and still provides some 95 percent of U.S. grid storage, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The largest pumped storage system in the US is Bath County Pumped Storage Station, which is described as the biggest battery in the world. With a storage capacity of 24 GWh of electricity and a generating capacity of 3,003 MW, it dwarfs Electric Mountain. But then the Americans have bigger mountains.

Pumped storage is a good partner for intermittent renewables like wind and solar, but in a country like the UK, the US and other countries with strong planning laws getting permission to build a large pumped storage system is not easy. We tried to build one on Exmoor, but that was abandoned.

Note that the country building the most new pumped storage systems is China, where they have mountains and planning laws, that would not be acceptable anywhere else.

But engineers have come up with a new design, described in this paragraph from the GreenTechMedia article.

The new school of pumped hydro focuses on isolated reservoirs that don’t disrupt river ecosystems; this simplifies permitting, but projects still face a decade-long development timeline and billion-dollar price tags.

It then gives two examples of proposed systems.

Gordon Butte Pumped Storage Project

The operation of the Gordon Butte Pumped Storage Project is described like this in Wikipedia.

Gordon Butte will be located on a 177 acres (0.72 km2) site, and will have access to water from Cottonwood Creek, a tributary of the Musselshell River. The facility will operate as a closed system, without actively drawing or discharging water into the watershed. It will have a 4,000 acre-foot capacity reservoir, located 1,000 feet (300 m) above the base, with a power generation capacity of about 400 MW

The smaller size must make it easier to get it built.

How much energy will Gordon Butte hold in GWh?

  • A 4,000 acre-foot reservoir has a capacity of 4,933,927.42128 cubic metres.
  • As a cubic metre of water weighs a tonne, the reservoir can hold 4,933,927.42128 tonnes of water at an altitude of 300 metres.
  • Using Omni’s Potential Energy Calculator, this gives a potential energy of 4,032,108 KWh.

This is just over 4 GWh.

Ths facility could supply 400 MW for ten hours or 4 MW for a thousand hours!

It should be noted that Electric Mountain has an efficiency of 74-76%.

Eagle Mountain Pumped Storage Facility

Eagle Mountain Pumped Storage Facility is introduced like this on its web site.

The pumped storage hydropower project at Eagle Mountain, CA will transform a scarred brownfield site into a 1,300 Megawatt generator of green electricity that can light one million homes. The site is in a remote part of the Mojave Desert, more than 50 miles from the nearest city, Blythe, CA, and more than 60 miles from Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. The construction of the project will create thousands of jobs and add millions of dollars to the local economy while adhering to the most rigorous environmental standards.

Note that it is turning an eyesore of the worst kind into a pumped storage facility. It’s surely better than using it for landfill!

Conclusion

Systems like these may have applications in the UK!

Could some of those massive quarries in the Peak District be converted into pumped storage systems, using the technology of my two examples?

This Google Map shows the quarries surrounding the town of Buxton.

Note.

  1. The white areas looking almost like clouds are quarries.
  2. Buxton has an altitude of three hundred metres, which is the altitude of the Gordon Butte Storage Project.
  3. The vast Tunstead Quarry, which is four kilometres East of Buxton has an area of over one square mile.
  4. Tunstead Quarry has a red arrow above it marked Buxton Lime and Cement.

Could we not extract as much limestone as is possible from Tunstead and then convert it into a pumped storage system like Gordon Butte? It could have an area of 2.5 square kilometres and an altitude of nearly a thousand feet. A rough estimate, based on Gordon Butte, indicates it could store over 10 GWh.

Hopefully, better hydro-electric power engineers than myself, are looking at the quarries in the Peak District, with eyes flashing like cash registers.

There is one pumped storage project under development in the UK at the present time; Snowdonia Pumped Hydro, which obtained planning permission in 2017.

These are some characteristics.

  • Situated in Snowdonia in old slate quarries at Glyn Rhonwy.
  • 99.9 MW of power
  • 700 MWh of storage capacity.
  • 2 reversible turbines
  • Start to full power in 12 seconds
  • Cycle efficiency of around 81%
  • Project lifespan of 125 years
  • Estimated carbon saving of 50,000 tonnes per year

It is under a tenth the size to Electric Mountain, but every little helps.

I would also feel that with a 125 year life, it could be the sort of investment, that would appeal to a Pension Fund.

 

 

 

April 1, 2020 - Posted by | World | , , , , ,

6 Comments »

  1. Thunderf00t on youtube did a critque of the stacked blocks proposal mentioned in the article

    Comment by MilesT | April 1, 2020 | Reply

  2. QBC appear to be doing something in Wales. https://www.quarrybattery.com/

    Related: for some reason i really like the word ‘penstock’.

    Comment by Matthew | April 1, 2020 | Reply

    • Words are great fun!

      Their web site appears down!

      However, it looks like a more traditional pumped storage system.

      Comment by AnonW | April 1, 2020 | Reply

      • As opposed to? (sorry if I’m missing a nuance!)

        Comment by Matthew | April 2, 2020

  3. […] schemes, as at Electric Mountain in Snowdonia may have a part to play as I described in The New Generation Of Pumped Storage Systems. But sadly, the UK doesn’t have the terrain for another 9.1 GWh […]

    Pingback by Highview Power Keeping Up Momentum « The Anonymous Widower | May 2, 2020 | Reply

  4. […] I also feel that there’s also an old kid on the block, when it comes to long term energy storage and that is new methods of deploying pumped storage, that I wrote about in The New Generation Of Pumped Storage Systems. […]

    Pingback by 150 Hours Of Storage? Company Says That’s True To Form « The Anonymous Widower | May 10, 2020 | Reply


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