Skip to comments.Pumped-storage system helps handle power demand (consumes more power than it produces)
Posted on 09/19/2011 12:12:21 PM PDT by Brookhaven
At the edge of the tailwater of the Kinzua Dam on the Allegheny River in Warren County sits a hydroelectric generating station.
But the Seneca Pumped-Storage Hydro Generating Station isn't powered by the water flowing through the dam, like the more familiar hydroelectric projects such as Hoover Dam, but rather from a 2 billion gallon reservoir perched some 800 feet above, among the trees of the Allegheny National Forest.
"Pumped-storage hydro is a different animal," said Mark Durbin, spokesman for the facility's operator, First Energy Generation Corp.
Durbin pointed out the station can generate 451 megawatts of electricity, but only for 10 hours a day. It then takes 14 hours to pump water back up to the perfectly round upper reservoir, about the size of a small NASCAR track, to start the process again, he said.
The station also uses more electricity than it generates, so at a glance it might seem absurd. But for those in the business of keeping the lights on, it's a valuable asset that helps the utility make money and meet the fluctuating demands of the power grid, noted civil engineer Rick Miller, who works for the Nebraska-based firm HDR Inc.
(Excerpt) Read more at altoonamirror.com ...
Any storage mechanism is going to lose energy in the process.
This was new in about 1890.
why don’t they just use a gas generator? It doesn’t use as much power and can be switched on when ever needed.
Sounds like it’s based on the same principles as Bronco Bomber’s stimulus plan.
Yeah it sounds stupid, but it is not as stupid as it sounds. This may just be working solution to a problem.
Your local water tower works the same way.
They pump it full at night when there is little water use, then allow it to flow during the day.
Otherwise there might be periods of low water flow in high demand time periods during the day.
Otherwise they would have to have pumps twice as large to handle peak flow in the daytime, which would sit idle at night
Pumped storage has been around for a long time.
It’s a way of leveling out demand. It isn’t efficient to run power plants up and down. they like to run at a constant speed. When the demand is light, some of the power is shunted off to run turbine pumps that pump water uphill behind a dam. When demand is high, the water is let down through the penstocks and the turbine motors become generators (or more precisely, alternators, I guess). and that electrical power is fed into the grid.
Thermodynamically, yes, it does use more power than it produces (there is no perpetual motion machine). But, overall, it is useful to level out loads without keeping a lot of ‘spinning reserve’. A lot of peak demand generation has moved to gas turbine plants that can be brought up quickly. Steam plants need days to get up from a cold start.
They use a coal fired plant to pump the water when the wind stops.
There are several of these facilities across the country and have been for years. They are meant to store up power while demand is low (cheaper).. and pump out power when demand is high (expensive).
Buy low sell high type thing. This isn’t green crap.
If you read the fine print in the story, you realize what they really have created is a scam.
They fill the resivoir at night, paying for electricity at the lower off-peak rate. The empty the resivor during the day, creating electricity, and selling it back to the power company at higher peak rates.
The entire process is a net energy negative, but it creates a profit.
Of course, if the power company wasn’t forced by govt. regulations to purchase the electricity from third parties, the entire enterprise would collapse.
So why don’t they just divert the water further upstream via an aqueduct to the reservoir instead of pumping?
Both the pumped storage and the nuclear plants suffered the same fate.
Environmental wacko's forced nuclear plants to multiply their costs by delays, protesters, siting, needless environmental lawsuits, etc., which ultimately didn't stop their construction at the time, but prevents NEW plants from being built, to appease the greenies.
The same situation occurred when pumped storage was tried to be built, where greenies, tree-huggers, and environmentalists delayed them to the point of them becoming un-economic to build and were abandoned as a source of power.
In the end, some of the best generation in the East are the Bath County Hydro plant of Allegheny Power Company, and the Seneca Plant in PA. Too bad the plants are gonna be antiques, as siting new plants today is nearly impossible, and energy is so much needed. We are stuck with the buddy system of "green power", where if you have a buddy in Congress, you get taxpayer money for green power albatrosses, which are totally insufficient to meet today's energy needs and cannot compete economically on their own. Think "Solyndra", and you see what's goin' on.
Follow the money (and the votes).
And it might be a way to “store” energy from Wind and Solar derived power. Use wind turbines to pump the water. Probably doesn’t have to be clean, regulated, power, too although the pumps might not like it.
Any energy storage system must consume some energy.
They idea that makes it still work is to use cheaper off-peak power output to release during the more expensive peak time period.
The fundamental problem in electricity production and distribution is coincident demand. Too many people want to use electricity at the same time. What seems crazy about this is really not so crazy at all - you want to store power (potential) so you have it to overlay (other production methods) during peak power demand hours.
Likewise the fundamental problem with a power generation technology like wind is it has no necessary coincidence with the demand for electricity. And with vehicles like the Chevy Volt - you have limited range (which might cause people to charge them at work (adding to coincident demand) and commuting patterns that make overnight only charging impractical.
With electricity - it’s not what people demand it is when they demand it that creates the fundamental problem.
This statement from this environut clearly demonstrates the true motives behind environmental groups. They are not near as concerned with conservation as they are preventing power companies from gaining a profit.
That type of power is called "run of the river" hydro power, and is used extensively in the Northwest and somewhat in the Northeast. This diversion is used to generate power when the river flow is diverted, and is especially effective at times of heavy runoff. However, again, environmentalists delay the construction, fight the construction, regulations strangle the construction, and even the Tellico Dam in Tennessee (the protypical enviro-blocked project that started the ball rolling for obstructionists) was delayed for a long, long time, but ultimately built, once the Snail Darter was determined to be less important than the people (immediately when a judge ruled in favor of the project, it was started and Appeals did no good).
Pumped storage is used where flow is less regular and strong, and the water is available, but not enough current is available to run the hydro-turbines. The pumped storage reservoirs are on mountain tops, to provide enough "head" pressure to run turbines at the base of the mountain (which then discharge that water into the rivers below), and the water from the river is pumped up the mountain to re-fill the reservoir.
That is not a scam, it is a good business model.
We use it in a lot industries. For Example, the US uses a lot more natural gas in the winter than the summer. in many locations, we have underground gas storage, we fill in the summer and release in the winter. We buy it cheaper and sell it for a profit, while paying for the storage and the energy it takes to put it there.
It means a more effective use of our natural gas production. It means we don’t have to build a massive system to supply the large peak rate that sits partially idle the rest of the year.
Analogy: your car battery stores energy during driving periods, so it's available for the heavy-current need when starting the engine. Your alternator-battery system loses energy, but it's still a big net value compared with hand-cranking the car engine, as in pre-WWII days.