Innovative New Swiss 'Water Battery' is One of Europe's Primary Renewable Energy Sources
A water battery storing as much energy as 400,000 electric car batteries has started working in Switzerland. The pumped storage power plant was constructed underground in the Swiss canton of Valais. The battery's ability to store and create enormous volumes of hydroelectric energy will play a significant role in stabilising Switzerland's and Europe's power supplies.
A water battery is a type of hydroelectric energy storage. The battery consists of two enormous pools of water at varying heights. By pumping water from the lower pool to the upper pool, extra electricity can be stored, thereby "charging" the battery.
When electricity is required, the water flow is reversed. The rotation of a turbine by the flow of water provides hydroelectric electricity.
Hydro batteries are particularly advantageous for storing extra energy generated by intermittent power sources like wind, solar, and nuclear power.
During periods of overproduction, the energy is pushed to the top pool, where it can be released to produce energy during periods of high demand. Water batteries are currently the type of grid energy storage with the greatest capacity.
The Swiss power plant, built by the company Nant de Drance, has six pump turbines with a combined output of 900 MW, sufficient to power up to 900,000 houses.
With a storage capacity of 20 million kWh, it is believed that the water battery would play a vital role in stabilising the energy systems of Switzerland and Europe.
The battery can lessen the probability of a grid overload during periods of high demand, such as heat waves.
The battery sits 600 metres underground between the reservoirs of Emosson and Vieux Emosson in Valais.
It took 14 years to complete because of significant logistical and engineering obstacles. For the plant, 18 kilometres of tunnels had to be dug through the Alps.