Euronews reports that a 900 MW 'water battery' that cost Switzerland $2 billion and was under construction for 14 years is now operational. The battery is situated near 2,000 feet (600 meters) underground in the Swiss Alps.
There is also the need to store this energy, which is produced intermittently depending on weather conditions and the time of the day. While dense battery packsare a viable solution, other materials like nickel, cobalt, and lithium are required, and these storage devices must be mined and are not environmentally friendly.
Scientists throughout the world have been experimenting with other energy storage strategies, such as carbon dioxide or even tapping into the carrying capacity of elevators in high rises in urban areas for rapid energy dissipation when demand peakes. A water battery is something that is well-known to work.
What is the use of a water battery?
A water battery consists of two large pools of water at different heights. When power production is high, excessive power is used to pump water from the lower pool to the pool at a higher height, which is similar to charging a conventional battery.
When power demand rises, the water at the higher level can be released and, as it reaches the lower pool, it passes through turbines that generate electricity that can be used to power the grid.
The Swiss have been using this technique for centuries, although China has recently decided to build 270 GW of storage capacity by 2025.
The water battery that was just installed in Switzerland has a storage capacity of 20 million kWh, the equivalent of 400,000 electric cars, and is aimed at helping stabilize the energy grid in Switzerland and other connected grids in Europe, according to Euronews.
Why did Switzerland take 14 years to construct it?
The battery has been built between the reservoirs of Emosson and Vieux Emosson in Valais, a canton in Switzerland's south-west region, which is about 2,000 feet (600 m) underground. The huge engine room of the plant measures about 650 feet (200 m) long and is over 100 feet (32 m) wide.
Engineers had to dig out tunnels through the Alps to get building materials to the site, a process that took 14 years. The total length of the excavations for the project now stands at about 11 miles (18 km).
The height of theVieux Emosson dam was also increased by 65 feet (20 m) to boost the battery's energy storage capacity. After all this hard work, the battery is now operational and capable of powering 900,000 homes at a time.