We're pumped about thisWhile grid-scale liquid metal batteries might be a more exciting technology, good old pumped hydro storage is one of the ways we can store power from intermittent sources (like solar & wind) or shift supply around (from the night to peak use). Ideally, you would use existing hydro to act as a buffer, so that when the sun is shining on your solar panels and/or the wind is blowing in your wind turbines, you reduce your use of hydropower and let the water level rise behind the dams, and when there's no sun or wind, you can use that stored kinetic energy to pick up the slack.
What if you don't have access to enough hydro, or you do but can't use it for some reason (not enough transmission capacity, or grid needs an upgrade)? You can find a huge hole and build a pumped storage station on top of it. That's what Northland Power wants to do in Marmora, Ontario, on the site of an abandoned open-pit iron ore mine that used to be exploited by Bethlehem Steel.
Toronto-based Northland is proposing a $700-million, “pumped storage” hydroelectric project that would create a waterfall five times the height of Niagara Falls – though with a fraction of the volume – descending from the slag mountain to the mine pit below.
To operate the plant, Northland plans to purchase electricity from Ontario’s grid at night when prices are low and use it to pump water from the mine pit up to a newly constructed reservoir. During the day, the company would release the water for a 258-metre plunge to a powerhouse and generate 400-megawatts of power to take advantage of peak-time power prices when demand is high and wind turbines typically are less active. (source)
This would be particularly useful because the province's total wind power capacity is expected to increase from 1,700 megawatts now to around 7,800 megawatts by 2018. But what would all that extra clean be good for if the wind is blowing at night and there's no way to store it?
Via Globe & Mail