If we are to rely on clean energy from wind and solar resources, then we have to find a way to have them constantly at hand. The wind and the sun are unreliable by their nature and power cuts are not an option in this era of speed and global communication.
So the answer is to store energy away for “blackout days” – days when the sun hides behind the clouds or the wind refuses to turn a leaf. Germany has found a way to reconcile both past and future: using old abandoned mines to house energy from wind turbines.
A pilot project would have mines from the Harz Mountains act as homes for the facilities. The innovation consists of placing a hydroelectric plant in an unused mine for the first time. Plants like this one use wind or sun’s power to push the water between pumps. During days when there is no sun or wind, the water is being delivered from the top tank to the lowest one through turbines and this is how energy is produced.
You may wonder, since i’s that simple, why do Germans have to do it in a mine rather than on plain ground? Because one of the concerns pending over the usage of renewable energy is the fact that they affect the environment, by industrializing it or changing its aspect.
With the placement of such plants underground, you don’t get that kind of fuss over it; plus you find a second life for mines that have served their purpose in the extraction industry. Tha’s not all: it could provide 150 jobs, as well as give a push to the region’s economy, as it would store the energy from local wind turbines and offshore ones from the North Sea.
Since this seems like a very good idea, the location of the West Harz region is more than favorable and local government officials are interested in it, all that the project lacks so far is the money to be put in practice. The plant would provide 400 MWh, meaning 40,000 homes with electricity to power them for a whole day. Given this data, the projec’s initiators are confident that investors will not be too late to offer €200 million.
[via The Local]