Pumped storage power plants for the energy transition
Pumps consume a lot of energy: they account for around one tenth of the global consumption of electrical energy. There is potential for savings with many aggregates. Modern engines and a regulated, needs-based drive can help to reduce consumption.
With their energy requirements, however, pumps also do a lot. They are indispensable in countless areas of industry, commerce and private households. From water distribution and chemical production to agriculture and building services, pumps keep processes running.
Pumps can store a lot of energy
Pumped storage power plants illustrate that pumps are not only responsible for the consumption of electrical energy, but can also help to generate and store it. The simple functional principle: Pumps convey water into a so-called upper water basin, which is higher than the underwater basin. The electrical energy for pumping the water thus becomes potential energy, which can be used again by turbines to generate electricity if required.
Pumped storage power plants can store excess energy until it is needed - they are therefore an important factor for the energy transition, as electricity generation from renewable energy sources such as wind and sun fluctuates. To operate energy networks exclusively with renewable sources, however, there have been far too few pumped storage power plants. Because at least two water reservoirs are required for operation, the geographical factors for the construction play an even greater role in this case than with other power plants.
From coal mining to storage power plant
The EU project Atlantis is investigating ways to solve this problem - by linking it to another challenge of the energy transition. More and more coal mines are being shut down across Europe. Atlantis aims to convert these open pit mines into hybrid energy storage projects.
For this purpose, an integrated technical and economic feasibility study for energy storage of excess energy in former brown coal opencast mines is to be drawn up. It is important to those involved in the project that the specifications of the European Green Deal on climate protection and nature conservation are taken into account. After all, one of the biggest problems of pumped storage power plants is the significant impact on ecology and the landscape.
The project focuses on two European mining regions in Greece and Poland that are in transition. However, Atlantis is coordinated by the German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ). It brings together six research institutes and energy supply companies from Greece, Poland and Germany. The EU is funding the project for three years.
Pumped storage power plants can play a key role in the energy transition. And pumps are indispensable. As the use of energy storage grows, pumps can demonstrate more clearly that they not only consume energy, but also have great benefits in storing and using it efficiently.
Picture: Ringelbaer, Pixabay