Alongside the effort to develop green power and related energy storage systems Australia has decided to invest heavily in pumped-storage power, to supplement green power whose supply is less reliable.
The most noticeable project is the Snowy 2.0 plan, which calls for an investment of US$3.5 billion for the construction of a 2,000 MW pumped-storage power plant at Snowy reservoir, the largest in the nation. Scheduled for inauguration in 2024, the project boasts a huge power storage capacity, capable of supplying the power need of 500,000 households for one week.
The project, however, has been overshadowed by a number of concerns, including high construction cost, potential irreversible damage to the environment, and technological difficulty for constructing an underground tunnel. Some believe that money can be better spent in investment in the development of battery energy storage systems.
A pumped-storage power station calls for the pumping of water in a lower pond to the upper part of the reservoir when the power need or power rate is low. The potential energy is used to propel the turbines for power generation.
Pump-storage power stations boast many advantages, including long life. They are able to last for as long as 100 years, compared with the 25 years for wind farms and 30 years for nuclear power plants. In addition, the plants’ engineering works are simpler, due to the existence of hydraulic power facilities at most reservoirs. What needs to be done includes only the construction of a water-storage pond at the lower level and an underground tunnel as water course.
(Collaborative media: TechNews, first photo courtesy of Snowy 2.0 website)