Big Bad Batteries Vs Hydro Gravitic potential

  1. LordOfWizards

    LordOfWizards Well-Known Member

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    Dec 4, 2017
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  2. mosaix

    mosaix Shropshire, U.K.

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  3. Venusian Broon

    Venusian Broon Defending the SF genre with terminal intensity

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    Actually (apparently), the first ever reversible pump storage hydro system was Cruachan power station, built near Oban in Argyll.

    History - Cruachan Visitor Centre

    Opened in 1965, so it's 52 years old.

    I think the difference here is that they are not using a dam to hold the water at a higher potential (which will need geography to be kind to you) but a couple of vertical shafts that uses water as a hydraulic fluid to move a giant piston up, which then if energy is required, the piston is allowed to fall under gravity and push the water back the way it came and through turbines.

    No idea how big they can make these things. Article says up to 1,600 MW. That looks big compared to most UK hydro schemes.
     
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  4. Mirannan

    Mirannan Well-Known Member

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    Another method that's been used is compressed air energy storage. Sealing is a problem, of course.
     
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  5. Dave

    Dave Wherever I Am, I'm There Staff Member

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    It is very "old" technology really. William Armstrong had hydro-electric power at Cragside Hydropower returns to Cragside which was also the first house with electric lighting, and had electric service lifts. He didn't pump the water back again (because he didn't need to) so it wasn't a reversible pump storage hydro system, but the technology was there if it had ever been required.

    I think the toxic metals and materials in batteries are an environmental problem, but then flooding valleys and constructing humongous underground water pipes is too. I think the real debate is not which is best, because a mix of both is probably best, but rather the debate should be over lots of small plants versus a few huge plants. I don't think an enormous battery or an enormous pump storage system is a good idea. If it fails the consequences are more severe. We need a more dispersed, decentralised, distributed generation and storage of energy, and more on-site generation.
     
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  6. LordOfWizards

    LordOfWizards Well-Known Member

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    Yes this is the general idea. This type of system relies on the local topography. A quote from your article: “This kind of plant is very important to our energy mix in the UK, as most electricity generating plants are very slow to react to changes in demand. For example nuclear power plants can take a few days to reach full power from a shut down state, while coal will take hours to fire up and get up to the temperatures required to drive the electrical and combustion processes. In 12 seconds the plant can go from shut down state to full operating capacity, allowing it to meet very sudden high demand, such as a TV soap advert break when people put their kettles on!”

    The difference here Let Gravity Store the Energy is that this is a micro version of the idea using the same concept as they do in the garage to lift your auto for maintenance. (Hydraulics)

    Therefore it can be duplicated almost anywhere and does not rely on topography. But it does use the same type of reversible pump/generator.
     
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  7. Venusian Broon

    Venusian Broon Defending the SF genre with terminal intensity

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    There's a subtle distinction - I agree that hydroelectric electricity is older than 1965! - but these reversible systems were really designed to store energy. Which is great for all these pesky renewables that don't operate when demand is greatest.

    I agree with you totally the fact that what should be built is not as simple as saying, all massive dams/holes in the ground.
     
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  8. Mike Donoghue

    Mike Donoghue Active Member

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    I agree 100%. Vast, diffuse power distribution systems such would be needed to tie in armies of armies turbines and fields of solar panels is doomed to all the same inefficiencies and modes of failure as the current grid scheme. Don't get me wrong, the power grid has its advantages, but we're in the 20th century now and the skills and technology are available to allow municipal-sized power grids.
     
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  9. Mirannan

    Mirannan Well-Known Member

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    Another way of generating electricity for peak loads appears to be gas-powered plants, which can be spooled up to full power quite quickly; AFAIK they often use gas turbine technology, thus avoiding the delay for heating up a boiler. Incidentally, burning gas generates significantly less CO2 than the same calorific value of coal. (Yet another argument for fracking, but let's not go there.) I suspect that the exhaust heat left over would be considerable, and might be used for something, perhaps process heat in a chemical plant or district heating.
     
    Dec 5, 2017
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  10. LordOfWizards

    LordOfWizards Well-Known Member

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    Yes, The molecular formula for Natural gas is CH4 which means that for every hydrogen that's converted there's only one carbon dioxide produced. Like this: CH4 + 2 O2 -> CO2 + 2 H2O. As opposed to gasoline or coal that produces about 5 times as much CO2. There are several issues though.

    "Hydraulic fracturing" (the polite term for it) Not only introduces lots of complex toxins into the ground (thickeners added to the water they pump to force out the gas), but it often slices a hole that cuts through the natural water table making the water supply vulnerable to contamination by the gas itself, along with whatever else they dredge up from thousands of meters below. No fossil fuel ever comes up pure from the well that releases it. It has to go through all sorts of filtering to get rid of nasty things like Hydrogen-Sulfide (rotten egg smell), Benzene (a known carcinogen), heavier Ethanes, and Mercury. So all of those things can leak into the water table just a few hundred meters below the ground. The millions of liters of water that comes back up every day is completely useless for drinking or irrigation purposes, and is poured into beds to evaporate into the air. Illustration:

    fracking-infographic.jpg
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
    Dec 6, 2017
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