Special Issue "Underground Pumped Storage Plants"

A special issue of Energies (ISSN 1996-1073). This special issue belongs to the section "Energy Storage and Application".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 June 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Assoc. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Elena Pummer

Guest Editor
Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
Adjunct Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kaspar Vereide
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
Prof. Leif Lia
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, NTNU, Norway
Interests: hydraulics; hydraulic structures; hydraulic scale modeling; hydropower plants; hydropower in cold regions
Prof. Andre Niemann
Website
Guest Editor
University of Duisburg-Essen, Center for Water and Environmental Research, Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Ressources Management, Universitätsstr. 15, 45141 Essen, Germany
Interests: sustainable hydropower; urban waters; hydromorphology; ecological passability; socio-economy of water management measures; climate change prevention; flood protection; flood risk management

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

A changing energy system with a growing amount of renewable energy will have considerable impacts on the need for and use of energy storage systems. New systems need to be developed and existing systems need to be expanded and redesigned to operate flexibly in order to react to a fluctuating renewable energy feed. To store electrical energy, pumped storage plants have been successfully used for more than 100 years, mostly in peak shaving mode. For this mode, a large volume and a great height difference that lead to a high power output are needed. For fast and more flexible operations, the reservoir’s volume becomes less important and schemes, such as underground pumped storage plants, that use underground reservoirs instead of classical surface ones could be a new option. With these schemes, energy storage systems could be greatly expanded, because they operate independently of the specific terrain that classical pumped storage plants need. This Special Issue will address research on the hydraulic and machinery design, the geology, the public acceptance, the environmental impact, the operation modes, the legal regulation, and the economic efficiency of underground pumped storage plants. We would also like to invite authors to address the global potential for expanding underground pumped storage plants and to demonstrate specific case studies.

Assoc. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Elena Pummer
Adjunct Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kaspar Vereide
Prof. Leif Lia
Prof. Andre Niemann
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Risk Mitigation and Investability of a U-PHS Project in The Netherlands
Energies 2020, 13(19), 5072; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13195072 - 28 Sep 2020
Abstract
We review the status of a 1.4 GW, 8 GWh underground pumped hydro storage (U-PHS) project in the southern Netherlands, which has been under development since the 1980s. Its history shows how the prospect of a large-scale U-PHS for The Netherlands (a country [...] Read more.
We review the status of a 1.4 GW, 8 GWh underground pumped hydro storage (U-PHS) project in the southern Netherlands, which has been under development since the 1980s. Its history shows how the prospect of a large-scale U-PHS for The Netherlands (a country whose proverbial flatness prohibits PHS) has been attractive in every decade, based on proven technology in a subsurface location with validated properties, and solid analysis of its economics. Although the ongoing energy transition clearly requires massive electricity storage, (U-)PHS projects are challenging investment propositions, in The Netherlands, as elsewhere. This case study illustrates a point of general relevance, namely that although the project execution risk, related to uncertainty with respect to subsurface integrity, is very low, the transition risk, associated with the intrinsic uncertainties of an electricity system in transition, is significant. We point out mitigation strategies for both risk categories. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Underground Pumped Storage Plants)
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Open AccessArticle
Economic Feasibility of Semi-Underground Pumped Storage Hydropower Plants in Open-Pit Mines
Energies 2020, 13(16), 4178; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13164178 - 12 Aug 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
This work aims at the economic evaluation of a semi-underground pumped hydro storage power plant erected in an abandoned open-pit mine. For the exploratory model-based analysis, we develop and apply both a simple deterministic and a stochastic net present value (NPV) approach, the [...] Read more.
This work aims at the economic evaluation of a semi-underground pumped hydro storage power plant erected in an abandoned open-pit mine. For the exploratory model-based analysis, we develop and apply both a simple deterministic and a stochastic net present value (NPV) approach, the latter of which uses a Monte Carlo simulation to account for revenue uncertainty from electricity price fluctuations. The analytical framework developed is applied to two promising sites in the Rheinland region in Germany, Hambach and Inden, making reasonable parameter value assumptions and considering and ignoring the lengthy duration of lower reservoir flooding. The investor’s value-at-risk is computed for alternative performance indicators (NPV, net cash recovery, profit-to-investment ratio, and specific production costs) to compare the different outcomes in terms of the project’s financial risk distribution. Calculations show that a semi-underground pumped hydro storage power plant in an abandoned open-pit mine can be constructed at reasonably low investment costs and operated at low specific production costs. However, because the investment has to be made long before the pit lake is (naturally) flooded—a process that for realistic flow rates may take up to 20 years—the project is highly uneconomical and would require substantial subsidies, as compared to a situation where flooding happens immediately. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Underground Pumped Storage Plants)
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Open AccessArticle
Underground Pumped Storage Hydropower Case Studies in Belgium: Perspectives and Challenges
Energies 2020, 13(15), 4000; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13154000 - 03 Aug 2020
Abstract
To avoid the geographical and topographical prerequisites of the conventional pumped hydro energy storage, the use of underground cavities as water reservoirs allows countries without steep topography, such as Belgium, to increase the potential of the energy storage capacity. Belgium abounds in disused [...] Read more.
To avoid the geographical and topographical prerequisites of the conventional pumped hydro energy storage, the use of underground cavities as water reservoirs allows countries without steep topography, such as Belgium, to increase the potential of the energy storage capacity. Belgium abounds in disused mines and quarries convertible into water basins. In this article, two Belgian case studies are presented and discussed for their singularity. A slate quarry in Martelange is discussed in technical aspects proposing three operating scenarios. Moreover, a preliminary economic analysis of the underground pumped storage system and a greenhouse gas emission evaluation for the storage system’s lifetime are presented. The analysis for a 100 MW power plant estimates a total initial investment of over 12 million euros and two million of CO2 avoided over its lifetime. This article also proposes the use of the coal mine 500 m deep of Pérronnes-lez-Binche. The mine representation discussed here offers a high energy capacity, but the substantial head drop (from about 500 to 200 m) challenges the selection of the hydraulic turbomachinery. A 1D simulation computed in SIMSEN draws out the behaviour of the unusual hydraulic configuration of turbines in series. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Underground Pumped Storage Plants)
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Open AccessArticle
Research on Groove Method to Suppress Stall in Pump Turbine
Energies 2020, 13(15), 3822; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13153822 - 25 Jul 2020
Abstract
The pump turbine is prone to stall when running at part-load operation. Stalls would cause a hump-like head characteristic curve, low-frequency high-amplitude pressure pulsation, and surge or resonance in the system. There is a lack of efficient methods for pump turbine stall suppression. [...] Read more.
The pump turbine is prone to stall when running at part-load operation. Stalls would cause a hump-like head characteristic curve, low-frequency high-amplitude pressure pulsation, and surge or resonance in the system. There is a lack of efficient methods for pump turbine stall suppression. The traditional blade hydrodynamic optimization method has limited effect and would influence the other characteristics. As the essence of stall is flow separation, forming a severe backflow vortex, a “Groove Method” is put forward and employed to suppress stall in a pump turbine with the full consideration of the mechanical structure, flow field, and pressure field. Both experiments and calculations are carried out to test the effectiveness of this new method. Furthermore, its deep mechanisms are revealed. This method can weaken the head hump to a certain extent and reduce the pressure pulse amplitude induced by stall. Meanwhile, the performance at the design operating point is not disturbed much. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Underground Pumped Storage Plants)
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Open AccessArticle
Underground Pumped-Storage Hydropower (UPSH) at the Martelange Mine (Belgium): Underground Reservoir Hydraulics
Energies 2020, 13(14), 3512; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13143512 - 08 Jul 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
The intermittent nature of most renewable energy sources requires their coupling with an energy storage system, with pumped storage hydropower (PSH) being one popular option. However, PSH cannot always be constructed due to topographic, environmental, and societal constraints, among others. Underground pumped storage [...] Read more.
The intermittent nature of most renewable energy sources requires their coupling with an energy storage system, with pumped storage hydropower (PSH) being one popular option. However, PSH cannot always be constructed due to topographic, environmental, and societal constraints, among others. Underground pumped storage hydropower (UPSH) has recently gained popularity as a viable alternative and may utilize abandoned mines for the construction of the lower reservoir in the underground. Such underground mines may have complex geometries and the injection/pumping of large volumes of water with high discharge could lead to uneven water level distribution over the underground reservoir subparts. This can temporarily influence the head difference between the upper and lower reservoirs of the UPSH, thus affecting the efficiency of the plant or inducing structural stability problems. The present study considers an abandoned slate mine in Martelange in Southeast Belgium as the lower, underground, reservoir of an UPSH plant and analyzes its hydraulic behavior. The abandoned slate mine consists of nine large chambers with a total volume of about 550,000 m3, whereas the maximum pumping and turbining discharges are 22.2 m3/s. The chambers have different size and they are interconnected with small galleries with limited discharge capacity that may hinder the flow exchange between adjacent chambers. The objective of this study is to quantify the effect of the connecting galleries cross-section and the chambers adequate aeration on the water level variations in the underground reservoir, considering a possible operation scenario build upon current electricity prices and using an original hydraulic modelling approach. The results highlight the importance of adequate ventilation of the chambers in order to reach the same equilibrium water level across all communicating chambers. For fully aerated chambers, the connecting galleries should have a total cross-sectional area of at least 15 m2 to allow water flow through them without significant restrictions and maintain similar water level at all times. Partially aerated chambers do not attain the same water level because of the entrapped air; however, the maximum water level differences between adjacent chambers remain relatively invariant when the total cross-sectional area of the connecting galleries is greater than 8 m2. The variation of hydraulic roughness of the connecting galleries affects the water exchange through small connecting galleries but is not very influential on water moving through galleries with large cross-sections. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Underground Pumped Storage Plants)
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Open AccessArticle
Underground Pumped-Storage Hydropower (UPSH) at the Martelange Mine (Belgium): Interactions with Groundwater Flow
Energies 2020, 13(9), 2353; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13092353 - 08 May 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
Underground pumped-storage hydropower (UPSH) is a promising technology to manage the electricity production in flat regions. UPSH plants consist of an underground and surface reservoirs. The energy is stored by pumping water from the underground to the surface reservoir and is produced by [...] Read more.
Underground pumped-storage hydropower (UPSH) is a promising technology to manage the electricity production in flat regions. UPSH plants consist of an underground and surface reservoirs. The energy is stored by pumping water from the underground to the surface reservoir and is produced by discharging water from the surface to the underground reservoir. The underground reservoir can be drilled, but a more efficient alternative, considered here, consists in using an abandoned mine. Given that mines are rarely waterproofed, there are concerns about the consequences (on the efficiency and the environment) of water exchanges between the underground reservoir and the surrounding medium. This work investigates numerically such water exchanges and their consequences. Numerical models are based on a real abandoned mine located in Belgium (Martelange slate mine) that is considered as a potential site to construct an UPSH plant. The model integrates the geometrical complexity of the mine, adopts an operation scenario based on actual electricity prices, simulates the behavior of the system during one year and considers two realistic scenarios of initial conditions with the underground reservoir being either completely full or totally drained. The results show that (1) water exchanges may have important consequences in terms of efficiency and environmental impacts, (2) the influence of the initial conditions is only relevant during early times, and (3), an important factor controlling the water exchanges and their consequences may be the relative location of the natural piezometric head with respect the underground reservoir. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Underground Pumped Storage Plants)
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Open AccessArticle
Transient Simulation of Underground Pumped Storage Hydropower Plants Operating in Pumping Mode
Energies 2020, 13(7), 1781; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13071781 - 07 Apr 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
The increasing penetration of variable renewable energies (VRE) in the European electricity mix requires flexible energy storage systems (ESS), such as pumped storage hydropower (PSH). Disused mining voids from deep closed mines may be used as subsurface reservoirs of underground pumped-storage hydropower (UPSH) [...] Read more.
The increasing penetration of variable renewable energies (VRE) in the European electricity mix requires flexible energy storage systems (ESS), such as pumped storage hydropower (PSH). Disused mining voids from deep closed mines may be used as subsurface reservoirs of underground pumped-storage hydropower (UPSH) plants. Unlike conventional PSH plants, the air pressure in UPSH plants is variable and it differs from the atmospheric conditions. In this paper, the hydraulic transient process of an UPSH plant operating in pumping mode was investigated and a preliminary thermodynamic analysis of the closed surge tank was carried out. Analytical and CFD three-dimensional numerical simulations based on the volume of fluid (VOF) model with two-phase flow have been performed for analyzing the transient process. In the transient simulation, air and water are considered as ideal gas and compressible liquid, respectively. Different guide vanes closing schemes have been simulated. The obtained results show that the dimensioning of underground reservoir, surge tank, and air ducts is essential for ensuring the hydraulic performance and optimizing the operation of UPSH plants. The static pressure in the air duct, surge tank and lower reservoir reaches −1.6, 112.8 and −4 kPa, respectively, while a heat flux of −80 W was obtained through the surge tank walls. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Underground Pumped Storage Plants)
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