With an increasing global population, the demand for energy is growing. Existing energy infrastructure is not capable of handling the demand, which is further emphasized after the blackout in Texas in February 2021. There is a need for alternative ways to offset the load on the system. Pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) offers a low-cost resource for peak hours between 8 AM and 8 PM. However, exploiting abandoned mines for their existing infrastructure to construct PHES plants would reduce capital cost. This underground pumped hydro energy storage (UPHES) mitigate the risk associated with traditional operations above ground. The alleviation of the demand on the grid would reduce the risk of black outs, something that have serious socio-economic repercussions. Low operation cost and durable technology makes PHES an attractive alternative. There are already 20 gigawatts from traditional PHES plants in the US. However, this technology poses a threat to aquatic life by destruction of habitat and is a subject of costly installations and objections from the community. PHES can be implemented in available infrastructure in abandoned mines. Groundwater in the mine or wastewater from a nearby treatment facility can be utilized to create the upper and lower reservoir which is beneficial for aeration and water improvements. I plan to perform a spatial analysis to determine the feasibility of underground pumped hydro energy storage (UPHES) in abandoned mines close to the 50 areas of highest electricity demand. Additionally, I will assess the potential for renewable energy around these areas. These results will not only illustrate the potential for this technology in the US, but create a blueprint for suitable locations for UPHES. To my knowledge, there are no other studies assessing the proximity of abandoned mines to demand centers in the US and compare it to the renewable potential in said areas.
Earth, Environmental and Geographical Sciences
Dr. Matt Van Grinsven
Faculty Advisor Email
Eide, Hilde, "Assessing Underground Pumped Hydro Energy Storage Potential in the United States" (2021). Celebration of Student Scholarship. 12.