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.
why dont they just use a gas generator? It doesnt use as much power and can be switched on when ever needed.
The Seneca project has been on the planning boards for about 20 years. It was originally planned when gas was expensive and old coal plants were getting expensive to run to supply electricity during peak demand periods (usually during the day)
The idea was to run your efficient big plants at 100% round the clock and use excess production from the large modern plants to pump up the reservoir at night. Then run the hydro generators during the day to produce for peak demand.
What this article is doing is trying to produce interest in completing the project as a Green Technology project.
A big advantage money saver. A peaking plant must be manned 24/7.
It’s not a scam, it’s a battery. And yes, it’s a net energy consumer because all forms of storing and transferring power are lossy.
The reason rates are higher during the day is because of demand. The whole point of a “battery” system like this is be able to supply additional power during peak demand periods without having to increase the generating capacity of power plants.
***The station also uses more electricity than it generates, ****
These have been around for quite a while. The way it works is when you have a “peak” demand, the cost of electricity goes way up. The gates are opened and the water flows through the turbines to produce this electricity to take advantage of this high cost time.
At night, when the price of electricity falls, the pumps are turned on allowing the water to be pumped back to the upper pond at a lower cost. The electricity to operate these pumps comes from other power plant sources.
The turbines produce high cost electricity during the day.
The pumps use MORE low cost electricity to pump the water back to the upper pond at night.
An example ~ your A/C is running. You are not running in and out and nobody is at home, yet, you don't want to come home to a hot steamy jungle that takes 6 hours to cool that evening. The A/C controller could switch over to a Relative Value of 10 degrees less than outside ambient rather than running on the Absolute Value of 70 degrees.
Your washer/dryer could easily be regulated to deal with variable power requirements depending on humidity levels (hey, mine already does eh).
All of our expensive LED lighting systems could be made even more efficient with simple motion detectors (turning them off when no one is around).
And so forth.
You have two choices: enough generating power to cover peak loads, which only last a few hours, or less generating power and a method of storing excess power for peak periods.
My bet is that this is cheaper than building another partially plant that would be idle most of the time.
Plus, you don't just turn plants on and off. You have to keep them idling during the off-peak hours.
This isn't new, and it's not rocket science.
A large percentage of what you pay per kilowatt is for the infrastructure used to produce it. This type of power storage allows the utilities to have smaller generation facilities which are cheaper to build and run at higher efficiency. The reason electricity is cheaper at night is because there is less demand at that time because there is excess generation capacity. This operation solves a problem. Without it not everyone would be able to turn on all their air conditioners at once during the day because it would overload the system.
As far as profit goes... this is a perfect example of capitalism at work. Entrepreneurs and investors who solve problems and allow others to live in comfort should be rewarded.
The current green movement possibly started with the defeat of ConEd’s application to build a pump storage system above the Hudson River on Storm King mountain. In the 70’s the Federal Power commission denied them a license to build after being sued by Historic Hudson Society and others. This one project could have offered relief to millions of users in the East and reduced their electric bills..
Funny how Al Gore never mentions that fact.
I think that you did not mean to respond to me. I just pointed out that it is not new technology. I understand it clearly and do not think that it is crazy in any way.
The company is based in Nebraska, there is not much grade there, you may be talking about diverting water from another state to get adequate elevation.
IIRC it is three KW to pump up, and two KW generation on the way down. Therefore the cost per KW nightime had to be 2/3 or less the cost per KW daytime.
The math worked in 1975, not sure now with fairly efficient gas fired combined cycle generation widely installed.
I read about 50% of a power plant's output is lost as waste heat at the plant. Instead of just pumping water up I wonder if some of it could be airlifted up using large evaporation ponds putting the waste heat to use. Natural solar heating would help too. When electricity is used in the city it also turns into waste heat. Possibly spraying water in a city would reduce the urban heat island effect while increasing rainfall and hydro power downwind. Adding nucleotides to the air would induce cloud formation providing shade and cooling for large areas during the day, and when wanted could provide a blanket effect at night.
Exactly right. A peaker plant operates on the marginal rate difference, essentially time-shifting energy from off-peak production to times when demand (and thus wholesale cost) is highest. I’d like to see analysis of a wind-hydro peaker, in which wind would be used to pump water into a reservoir which would then be used to drive a hydro to produce electricity when needed. It seems vastly simpler and with much greater capacity than electrical methods, e.g. capacitor or battery banks.
The future is yours:
For $18.97 you can install a programmable thermostat. You can come home to a cool house without paying to cool it all day.
The Nebraska company is HDR, an Omaha-based consulting engineering firm for hydroelectric generation.
The math still works because of the differential in demand from daytime to nighttime. There is excess capacity at night. Every bit of that capacity costs money to obtain, so instead of wasting it they use it to pump the water, thereby increasing the capacity for daytime use. Win-win.
Don't you stock up on canned goods when they are on sale?
That's not a problem. Energy storage is key. That's why hydroelectric is the only renewable that makes any sense were energy is stored in reservoirs behind dams. Or pumping water to a sufficient height and storing it as potential energy. The higher you can pump it the more energy available.
Greens don’t like dams anymore. Good luck trying to get one built.
I guess you just flip a switch to turn on teh wind or sun? You see, the demand is regular and quite predictable- unlike both sun and wind systems.
Using the excess capacity during off peak usage hours is the most efficient wayt to meet demand.
I agree that wind and solar could be used to help out, but it is not the solution everyone thins it is. Often, the trade off is a much higher cost per unit enegry than current systems, so until consumers understand that “green” technologies both cost more and are less reliable, we will continue to run on hydro, nuke, coal and petro-fueled plants. Just the facts.
Wait until such is attempted- and the power browns out philly or DC or NYNY etc, THEN deal with teh fallout in termsof lawsuits etc....
No easy (espc. “green”) solutions.
Is it actually energy storage? If you take heat away from water to make ice you are actually removing energy.
And I agree about Solar and Wind. Too many issues like distribution and conversion. All equal higher cost.
In this situation, you don't have to worry about feeding the energy back onto the grid. Just feed it to the pumps that fill the reservoir. Not far from the original idea of a windmill on a farm.
May I suggest a programmable thermostat? If you have any problems with homemade Minnesota designs you could find another brand, but I prefer Honeywell.
There's no reason at all these devices can't be built with a standard controller loaded with a "best use" program where all you'd need to do is enter time of day and zip code.
Deviations would take a bit more effort.
Check my response at #49.