Their plan, which has some impressive backing, is to blast giant caverns out of the bedrock 600 meters below and then, during times of peak electricity demand, divert water from the Black River into the caverns, which would power electric turbines on the way down. When demand is low, meanwhile, excess electricity would be used to operate the turbines in reverse, pumping water back out of the caverns. Because the power generated at a hydroelectric plant is proportional to the height the water travels, and because the Maine project would be twice the height of the tallest hydroelectric dam in the world, this underground hydro plant could generate a huge amount of electricity. It would have a capacity of 1000 megawatts, and could run at full bore for six to eight hours before its storage caverns were full. | TNR |
This is totally awesome for the following reasons:
Reason the first: Based on existing and well understood tech, cost estimates for this project can be very accurate.
Reason the second: It is useful in our current energy climate (where we are evening out the load on the grid using the battery), but is also poised to capitalize on--and lays the groundwork for!--future wind and solar power initiatives. It's agnostic about where the power comes from: It can just store that power relatively cheaply.
Reason the third: All this investment is good for the economy, and gosh, we could use more of it.
I suspect this is going to turn out to be a money maker for BlackRock. Plans for this kind of battery have been on the books for years, but with energy costs going up and wind/solar power coming on strong, I bet their break-even date is a lot sooner than it would have been five years ago.
In the future, I hope we'll see more projects like this, including projects that are even more like water towers: Pump the water up when you've got extra juice, and then on the way back down the water can provide power just like today it provides water pressure.
As we've already been covering, the future is full of win.