In the context: It took Switzerland 2 billion euros and 14 years, but the country’s underground “water battery” is now up and running. The project took so long, in part because the workers had to lay over 11 miles of the Swiss Alps.
The hydropile consists of two large reservoirs at different heights—in this case, they are located nearly 2,000 feet underground between the Emosson and Vieux-Emosson dams in Valais.
Excess energy can be used to pump water from the lower basin to the upper basin. When the demand for energy increases, the water from the upper basin can flow back into the lower reservoir. As the water flows, it turns turbines that generate hydroelectric power.
The power plant is equipped with six pumping turbines that can generate 900 MW of electricity. The facility was built by the company Nantes de Drance and is capable of storing 20 million kWh of electricity, which should help stabilize the Swiss power grid. We were told that it takes approximately 20 hours to empty the Vieux Emosson tank.
Renewable energy enthusiasts have been thinking outside the box a lot lately.
Last month, researchers from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) shared plans for a gravity system that would use elevators in high-rise buildings to generate and store electricity. A few days ago we learned that a company in Finland has created a battery that uses sand store electricity as heat.