In a symbolic gesture, German energy authorities are looking to repurpose old coal mines into wind power storage facilities. The concept involves placing hydroelectric pumps inside decommissioned mines, which would access wind power captured by turbines outside, giving new life to old mining communities and creating a sustainable storage system for the new wave of renewable energy.
During times of extreme wind, wind turbines produce more energy than households can possibly use. This excess wind power would be used to push water into an elevated reservoir, which could later be pulled to a lower tank by gravity and power turbines along the way. The system would provide energy when there is no wind, and the whole thing would be underground and out of sight.
Scientists have located six potential locations in the Harz Mountains, and expect each plant to cost between 170-200 million euros. Each will be able to store up to 400 MW of energy, which can power 40,000 homes for a day.
Sounds great, but how realistic is it? Very. According to project manager Mark Schmidt, "It is absolutely possible that this project will be realized in the near future, it’s very realistic.
- Mitchell Flexo
Photo: ArtMechanic via Wikimedia Commons