The electrical grids are sensitive to unexpected changes. Because of this, the people responsible for maintaining the electrical grids around the world have had a rollercoaster of a year. Many of you have heard about this in the news through 2020 and therefore we wanted to highlight how pumped storage can help maintain the balance in our electrical systems.
Financial Times published an interesting article* about how pumped storage is the ”first line of defense keeping Britain’s lights on”. When Covid 19 broke out, the electricity consumption in Britain decreased by 20 % in April and May. At the same time the UK solar- and wind power production peaked. The result of the extreme deviation in supply and demand of electricity was an imbalance in the electrical grid. The result of such an imbalance can result in that parts of the grid must be shut down to avoid damaging equipment that is connected to it. However, Britain managed to balance the grid thanks to four pumped storage hydropower plants situated in Wales and Scotland.
As we introduce more weather dependent energy production, and change our electrical consumption patterns (with increased electrification etc.), pumped storage is recognized as a working solution to the increasing pressure on the grids and energy systems.
Pumped Storage is currently the only mature technology that responds fast enough and is capable of stabilizing the grid over longer durations. In addition to providing national grid-level support, the plants in Britain also reduce the need to cut supply. This enables a faster transition to net zero emissions.
Traditional pumped storage is often met with skepticism because of the limitation of suitable locations, complex permitting processes, and the environmental impact from constructing above ground water dams.
As a truly sustainable alternative, Mine Storage has developed a new pumped storage solution. A smart methodology for qualifying and repurposing closed mines. The recipe includes parameters of hydrological, geological, infrastructural, regulatory and commercial nature which makes it possible to identify and screen potential mines in a new and efficient way. Retrofitting used mines also reduces the construction cost making the mine storage solution financially attractive. Furthermore, any new projects under development will also be beneficial for improving the regional economy after a financially tough 2020.
* Nathalie Thomas in Edinburgh JUNE 29 2020