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Article

An Exploratory Economic Analysis of Underground Pumped-Storage Hydro Power Plants in Abandoned Deep Coal Mines

1
Institute for Future Energy Consumer Needs and Behavior (FCN), E.ON Energy Research Center/School of Business and Economics, RWTH Aachen University, Mathieustrasse 10, 52074 Aachen, Germany
2
Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Sentralbygg I, Gløshaugen, 7491 Trondheim, Norway
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Energies 2020, 13(21), 5634; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13215634
Received: 24 July 2020 / Revised: 10 October 2020 / Accepted: 16 October 2020 / Published: 28 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Underground Pumped Storage Plants)
This study researches the concept of underground pumped-storage hydro power plants in closed-down underground hard coal mines in Germany. After a review on how this could be realized technically, an economic feasibility analysis is presented, with a particular focus on the costs for the underground storage reservoir. The analysis is performed for different lower (i.e., underground) reservoir sizes and temporal arbitrage potentials (peak/off-peak electricity price spreads), and cost uncertainty is dealt with by means of a Monte Carlo simulation for two distinct head heights. The findings regarding costs and acceptability are compared with those of a classic (on-surface) pumped-storage hydro power plant in a mountainous area. Based on a techno-economic evaluation we conclude that under favorable conditions the realization of underground pumped-storage hydro power (UPSHP) plants seems both technically feasible and economically reasonable. More specifically, an extension of a tubular system seems the most promising option. A UPSHP plant in a mineshaft is probably slightly more expensive than a conventional one, an outcome that depends strongly on the feasible head height. However, the significant reduction of the adverse impacts on the landscape and on local residents, as well as a potentially large number of feasible sites in flat terrain, could make UPSHPs an interesting option for the future energy transition, not just in Germany but worldwide at sites where underground mining is being abandoned. View Full-Text
Keywords: hydro power; pumped storage; coal mining; reservoir engineering; massive energy storage; economic viability; temporal arbitrage; Germany hydro power; pumped storage; coal mining; reservoir engineering; massive energy storage; economic viability; temporal arbitrage; Germany
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MDPI and ACS Style

Madlener, R.; Specht, J.M. An Exploratory Economic Analysis of Underground Pumped-Storage Hydro Power Plants in Abandoned Deep Coal Mines. Energies 2020, 13, 5634. https://doi.org/10.3390/en13215634

AMA Style

Madlener R, Specht JM. An Exploratory Economic Analysis of Underground Pumped-Storage Hydro Power Plants in Abandoned Deep Coal Mines. Energies. 2020; 13(21):5634. https://doi.org/10.3390/en13215634

Chicago/Turabian Style

Madlener, Reinhard, and Jan M. Specht. 2020. "An Exploratory Economic Analysis of Underground Pumped-Storage Hydro Power Plants in Abandoned Deep Coal Mines" Energies 13, no. 21: 5634. https://doi.org/10.3390/en13215634

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