Swiss "water battery" with 20 million kWh of capacity is finally functional

TheRealSCDC

Posts: 304   +420
Everyone should be asking the following:
What was the true total cost to build
What is the return on investment

Rather build a nuclear plant and have 24/7 power, and much more of it.
 

Bobbydpue

Posts: 371   +246
This isn’t a new thing, we’ve been doing it in the states for years....You can use solar panels or wind power to generate excess power during the night.. usually..
No one said anything about it being a new concept. I'm pretty sure you can't use solar panels to generate excess power during the night.



Everyone should be asking the following:
What was the true total cost to build
What is the return on investment

Rather build a nuclear plant and have 24/7 power, and much more of it.
Instead of asking questions assuming you know the answers you should be looking up data first. Nuclear power plants cost around 6 times more and that's doesn't include the cost of everything related to nuclear fuel and safety.



This is a cool project but I'm not sold on the idea.

I suspect that the total carbon footprint of building this thing was enormous. Tunneling through eleven miles of solid rock. Carving out enormous chambers 2000 feet underground. How much carbon was created just moving the stone? And the concrete? Making one ton of cement produces roughly one ton of CO2, because they have to fire it to 1400C.

The pumps required to pump the water uphill will significantly increase maintenance costs. Will workers need to take an eleven mile train ride just to reach the site? It would be interesting to see a ten year carbon footprint comparison between this and a coal energy plant with similar power delivery.

The renewable energy industry sometimes has hidden carbon costs that make it a wash. Sure, you save carbon by using a windmill instead of burning coal. But when you factor in the backup systems to make up for inherent shortfalls of renewable energy, the carbon balance moves the other way.

It's like EVs. The carbon footprint of building an EV is MUCH higher than an IC, due mainly to the battery. It takes roughly seven years before the break-even point is reached. Most people sell their car at six years. So they're driving around thinking they're saving the world, when just the manufacturing of their car puts them seven years behind on the carbon footprint curve. Nothing is for free.
None of this was about reducing carbon. Also concrete is only 10% - 15% cement. The carbon produced creating it is insignificant when compared to the lifespan of concrete structures.
This battery isn't designed to replace power generation it's about capturing the excess renewable energy Switzerland produces to use it at another time. You can't do that with a coal power plant. Also it's obvious a coal power plant would produce a lot more carbon over 10 years than the construction of this water battery used to store excess renewable power.
"But when you factor in the backup systems to make up for inherent shortfalls of renewable energy," This water battery is the backup system for their renewable energy power production.
 
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Endymio

Posts: 1,794   +1,834
you are confusing concrete with ceramic. Concrete doesn't need to be fired..Also concrete is only 10% - 15% cement.
You edited out the first statement before I replied, so I assume you know it's incorrect. But the second statement -- the first Google link you found -- is equally wrong. Concrete used to make your driveway or patio is only about 10% cement, but the high-strength mix used for dams and bridges is many times higher.

This battery isn't designed to replace power generation it's about capturing the excess renewable energy Switzerland produces to use it at another time. You can't do that with a coal power plant.
Eh? Of course you can. This system can store the energy from any system that generates the electricity necessary to run its pumps. The point, though, is that you don't *need* to store electricity with traditional sources like coal or nuclear. That's a problem that exists only with wind and solar. They're always generating either too much power, or too little. Most people don't realize that the largest problem in commercial power generation isn't producing the energy, but instantaneously matching supply to the demand load on an instantaneous basis. Without enormous "batteries" like this, wind and solar can never produce more than a fraction of a grid's total energy demand.

Nuclear power plants cost around 6 times more
Again, this is utterly false. For operating costs alone, nuclear power is far cheaper than any other source. Amortizing capital construction costs raises the price -- especially in the US and Europe, where rabid environmentalists force legal actions that mean plants take 30 years to construct, rather than four or five.
 

Inthenstus

Posts: 124   +172
No one said anything about it being a new concept. I'm pretty sure you can't use solar panels to generate excess power during the night.




Instead of asking questions assuming you know the answers you should be looking up data first. Nuclear power plants cost around 6 times more and that's doesn't include the cost of everything related to nuclear fuel and safety.




None of this was about reducing carbon. Also concrete is only 10% - 15% cement. The carbon produced creating it is insignificant when compared to the lifespan of concrete structures.
This battery isn't designed to replace power generation it's about capturing the excess renewable energy Switzerland produces to use it at another time. You can't do that with a coal power plant. Also it's obvious a coal power plant would produce a lot more carbon over 10 years than the construction of this water battery used to store excess renewable power.
"But when you factor in the backup systems to make up for inherent shortfalls of renewable energy," This water battery is the backup system for their renewable energy power production.
Whoops, that’s a typo.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,949   +6,985
Amortizing capital construction costs raises the price -- especially in the US and Europe, where rabid environmentalists force legal actions that mean plants take 30 years to construct, rather than four or five.
There you are with your environmental boogeymen again. Do you check in your closet and under your bed each night for those environmental boogeymen?

Perhaps you should gain some historical perspective and look at the period of Lake Onondaga and what happened before environmental regulations came into play, and then again at the period after environmental regulations came into play as an example of what happens to resources both before and after environmental regulations come into play. You can bet that the free-reign of any owner of a source of pollution will invariably produce the same results. Keep championing a business climate without environmental regulations. Perhaps your children will inherit a cesspool and have you to thank for it.

I get it. Greed is a powerful driver. Let's let it run rampant. /s
 

erickmendes

Posts: 679   +310
Down here in Brasil we have lots of this kind of eletricity generation... But the big problem is that all of these gigantic hydraulic power facilities were build with gigantic dams that uses land with no care about the environment around them, or the communities around them too...

They built gigantic dams on rivers, changing the landscape, forcing small rural communities and even native brazillians to leave their villages, sometimes destroying forest area, directly disturbing fish species...

They make dams here giving no damns about anything (pun intented...), they just want "clean" cheap eletricity to industrial endeavors and to keep the population having enough energy... EVEN then they come with politic antics to keep gas powered eletricity facilities being used, giving millions for gas lobby in Brasil...

Also, back when Brasil started those hydraulic power facilities, it was a lot cheaper to destroy the landscape and make families homeless then to build more complex kinds of power generation facilities. Well, it still cheaper... at least when you only count money, and that's what the powers to be in Brasil care about.

Swiss is using the hydraulic eletric generation technology the really "clean" way... Down here we can only look and dream, because the problem is not technology, is the predatory political conundrum syphoning public money... As a poet once said... "sad tropics".
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,794   +1,834
There you are with your environmental boogeymen again.
Every major environmental group opposes nuclear power outright. And they also spend enormous sums to block nuclear plant construction, through legal action, protests, political lobbying, and occasionally outright sabotage at construction sites. They don't want clean, safe, well-regulated nuclear power They want no nuclear power whatsoever. Period.

This is simple fact. I'm sorry it upsets you so much.
 

someOtherGuy

Posts: 35   +22
This is a cool project but I'm not sold on the idea.

I suspect that the total carbon footprint of building this thing was enormous. Tunneling through eleven miles of solid rock. Carving out enormous chambers 2000 feet underground. How much carbon was created just moving the stone? And the concrete? Making one ton of cement produces roughly one ton of CO2, because they have to fire it to 1400C.

Created carbon? How come? From what?
 

someOtherGuy

Posts: 35   +22
They usually say to expect about 90% efficiency for this type of energy storage which is fairly efficient. This particular system with 900MW of storage isn't particularly large as there are probably 100 systems with more storage but they are a good way of storing energy.

90%?? That sounds like an ideal number on the vacuum or something similar. There are losses on the pumps, from internal friction and also from the design: you won't be able to convert electricity on gravitational energy without losses, unless you have the "perfect" design that accomplishes it, which should then be the main point of the article. Same idea with the other way: you wouldn't be able to convert every joule from gravitational energy into electricity, even with ideal conditions; add again the internal friction on the turbines and you're looking at a lot of losses.

Just by the magnitude of the "solution" it doesn't "feel" like it would be very efficient. The definitive answer would be to find out how much power is needed to fill the upper reservoir, which probably doesn't yield a great relation since the article leaves it unsaid while talking about the "millions of kWh produced" the other way.
 

someOtherGuy

Posts: 35   +22
Gravity, pressure, heat, what else? Virtually countless ways to store energy utilizing these natural phenomena really, anyone can build one, even if not exactly efficient, still a great thing to do.

But efficiency IS the key element for "storage": you don't buy a dozen eggs to be able to eat 8, you want the 12 of them. You don't buy a gallon of milk to drink 1/3 and sure as hell you won't pay for a full tank of gas to be able to use 3/4: sorry, 1/4 of the gas just "evaporates", too bad, drive quicker next time. Although most of the time energy storage is leaky, that's something that you'll want to keep in check.
 

someOtherGuy

Posts: 35   +22
Yeah there are losses like any energy generation systems in the world. That's just thermodynamics. This one is quite clean by comparison.

This is not an energy generation scheme: this is about storage (the energy gains here are always negative). You probably want to read the article again.
 

someOtherGuy

Posts: 35   +22
Instead of asking questions assuming you know the answers you should be looking up data first. Nuclear power plants cost around 6 times more and that's doesn't include the cost of everything related to nuclear fuel and safety.

So, there's only one size of power plant (with a single price tag) or maybe you're comparing to a nuclear plant of a similar size (20GW)? Keep in mind that this is "the battery" for another power source, so, to really compare cost you need to throw in the "generation" part too: your solar fields, wind farms, etc.

Also, keep in mind that this is a water management system, so, your pumps, generators, etc will still need supervision, repairs, replacements, etc.

None of this was about reducing carbon. Also concrete is only 10% - 15% cement. The carbon produced creating it is insignificant when compared to the lifespan of concrete structures.
This battery isn't designed to replace power generation it's about capturing the excess renewable energy Switzerland produces to use it at another time. You can't do that with a coal power plant. Also it's obvious a coal power plant would produce a lot more carbon over 10 years than the construction of this water battery used to store excess renewable power.
"But when you factor in the backup systems to make up for inherent shortfalls of renewable energy," This water battery is the backup system for their renewable energy power production.

Please stop talking about "creating carbon", it sounds extremely alchemisty; you might mean "producing CO2" which is one of the MANY places where carbon (C) exists.

This is a battery, so, it's "source agnostic" meaning that it will "store" electricity which might come from ANY source (even a coal power plant). For example: you could have a "small" coal power plant, not big enough to cover you grid's demand, that is, which is then paired to this "battery" and that way your peaks in demand will be handled by the battery, which will be "recharged" during the low demand periods. Such solution would have a lot of losses and costs, it would be probably better to build more coal plants (better efficiency) but it's still a possibility.

The battery issue is not a feature, it's a "solution" for the very bad sources (wind & solar). Most of the other generation schemes support reducing the input in some range, so you don't need to "store" excess energy, you just don't generate it.
 

someOtherGuy

Posts: 35   +22
There you are with your environmental boogeymen again. Do you check in your closet and under your bed each night for those environmental boogeymen?

Perhaps you should gain some historical perspective and look at the period of Lake Onondaga and what happened before environmental regulations came into play, and then again at the period after environmental regulations came into play as an example of what happens to resources both before and after environmental regulations come into play. You can bet that the free-reign of any owner of a source of pollution will invariably produce the same results. Keep championing a business climate without environmental regulations. Perhaps your children will inherit a cesspool and have you to thank for it.

I get it. Greed is a powerful driver. Let's let it run rampant. /s

The problem is that "there are no rules". You don't say this is what can't be done, you say: let's see what you're planning on doing and how would that affect the environment and THEN I'll tell you if it's possible or not. As you can imagine, this brings a LOT of corruption into the process, because there are "people deciding" what's ok, on a case by case basis.

Explicit environmental laws in the other hand are great, since they're (supposedly) tried and tested and are "the basics" of how to develop without killing the environment: don't discharge untreated waste into bodies of water, for every tree you tear down you need to plant a new one... stuff like that, explicit. Once this "environmental guru" becomes "the law" on what to do, then all goes to hell on a hand basket (power corrupts, absolute power...).

Regarding the power plant regulations, those should be clear enough: a power plant can be built and run safely if you:
1...
2...
3...
But again, it usually boils down to a case by case basis, and corruption ends up killing the whole thing.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,794   +1,834
The battery issue is not a feature, it's a "solution" for the very bad sources (wind & solar).
Interestingly enough, Texas -- site of a catastrophic power outage last year that killed 200+ people -- just yesterday issued an an emergency appeal for power conservation, as their wind turbine farms were producing only a meagre 8% of their rated capacity, even as demand surged to record highs.
 

mbk34

Posts: 354   +255
90%?? That sounds like an ideal number on the vacuum or something similar.
Unfortunately we all have to go by figures we find on the web. The numbers I found said 90%. A previous post said that Wikipedia gave an efficiency of 70-80%. The actual entry in Wikipedia states "The round-trip energy efficiency of PSH varies between 70%–80%, with some sources claiming up to 87%". The 70-80% figure does sound more believable.
 

Darth Shiv

Posts: 2,305   +844
This is not an energy generation scheme: this is about storage (the energy gains here are always negative). You probably want to read the article again.
My inference was obviously about any system that transfers energy. Any process we use to power something. I thought that would be pretty obvious.

And with storage systems, sure there are losses. The valid comparisons are what else could store that much energy, cost (inc environment, materials), losses and so on. Same as any energy gen/storage system. I have to spell it out now because you are pedantic not because my point wasn't relevant.
 

scavengerspc

Posts: 2,702   +2,944
TechSpot Elite
Interestingly enough, Texas -- site of a catastrophic power outage last year that killed 200+ people -- just yesterday issued an an emergency appeal for power conservation, as their wind turbine farms were producing only a meagre 8% of their rated capacity, even as demand surged to record highs.
And yet again Endymio provides a whole paragraph, and half the story.

You are supposed to install wind power where it will have the best wind conditions. They didn't, not overall. Hiding them as best was possible was the main concern. And they have no interconnects to outside sources for relief, so again, they are on their own. Texas........ Is anyone surprised?


"But meanwhile, wind speeds have fallen to extremely low levels, and that means the state’s fleet of turbines is at just 8% of their potential output."
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,794   +1,834
You are supposed to install wind power where it will have the best wind conditions. They didn't
You are misquoting your own article. Here is what it actually states:

"Depressed wind power during heat waves isn’t a new phenomenon. Powerful high-pressure systems that cause intense heat often squelch wind production -- just when more power is needed to meet higher electricity demand."

ERCOT sited their turbines in favorable areas. But that wind power doesn't exist when you need it most.
 

scavengerspc

Posts: 2,702   +2,944
TechSpot Elite
You are misquoting your own article. Here is what it actually states:
Yeah, see that's why we are supposed to link a whole article when quoting. And that's why I did it, so the whole story can be learned. This may surprise you, but some posters put up statements in quotes and even in italics. But no links. Guess who.

ERCOT sited their turbines in favorable areas. But that wind power doesn't exist when you need it most.
Ok, that is what my point was. Damn, what is your deal?
Anyway, here is where you can learn something.

GE Power was very direct when they told Ercot that the turbines would not function at acceptable levels even with reasonably favorable wind conditions in the areas they were planning to put them. They did it anyway. Their main concern was putting them out of general view and not in the strength of available wind corridors.

I might be able to have a few comment to you personally if you like. I know quite a few people at GE Energy. I will send off an email to them soon with a link here.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,794   +1,834
Yeah, see that's why we are supposed to link a whole article when quoting.
But I didn't quote an article; I stated a fact. A fact you quickly and easily verified. That's certainly preferable to providing a link, but misrepresenting it as supporting your claim when it doesn't do so at all.

No matter where ERCOT places its turbines, they will never produce anywhere near their rated power. That's the nature of wind and solar. It's rather pointless to deny that in the context of this article -- this multi-billion dollar "water battery" isn't being built to store the output of a nuclear or natural gas plant. It's needed to equalize the ups and downs of wind and solar power generation.

It's instructive to look at a nation like Germany, which in its attempts to "go green" went from the lowest electricity costs in Europe to one of the highest -- triple what we pay here. And what did they get for that? They only produce about a third of their electricity from renewable -- and they actually increased their carbon emissions in doing so. Why? Because every one of their wind and solar farms requires a backup natural gas plant, to backfill when they underproduce.

I might be able to have a few comment to you personally if you like. I know quite a few people at GE Energy.
Sure.
 

koblongata

Posts: 527   +293
But efficiency IS the key element for "storage": you don't buy a dozen eggs to be able to eat 8, you want the 12 of them. You don't buy a gallon of milk to drink 1/3 and sure as hell you won't pay for a full tank of gas to be able to use 3/4: sorry, 1/4 of the gas just "evaporates", too bad, drive quicker next time. Although most of the time energy storage is leaky, that's something that you'll want to keep in check.
For commercial projects, of course, but what I mean is energy storage can make a great weekend project.
 
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scavengerspc

Posts: 2,702   +2,944
TechSpot Elite
But I didn't quote an article; I stated a fact.
No, I stated facts, and proved them. You will learn all about that someday.
No matter where ERCOT places its turbines, they will never produce anywhere near their rated power.
They are like computers with throughput ratings, bandwidth and transfer speeds because they are rated with 100% perfect conditions that can't be met by the average end user. But they had been told what to expect where they should have been put, and what to expect from where they actually had some of them placed. Also, you should know, they told me that the rigs placed where they should have been are operating as promised.

One last time, they were told what to expect under less active conditions, and now some of them want to whine now that they are forced to face it.
It's instructive to look at a nation like Germany, which in its attempts to "go green" went from the lowest electricity costs in Europe to one of the highest -- triple what we pay here.
War does that, and I honestly thought you would have known that. My bad.
Watch your PM, and please let me know. You are very interesting to them, with how you want to correct the people that have been there.
 

pmshah

Posts: 184   +43
Pumping water back to the main reservoir using unused energy is nothing new. The French have been doing this for decades. It done mainly at night when factories are closed and people go to sleep.