Switzerland’s Gigantic “Water Battery” Will Passively Stabilize Electricity Grids Across Europe

August 15, 2022 at 7:23 pm

Ingenious “water battery” stores massive amount of solar and wind energy in a reservoir high in the Swiss Alps when production is high, and then releases it when demand is high!

One of the biggest challenges for making solar and wind energy a viable alternative to petroleum is that they aren’t consistent sources of energy, and therefore, the intermittent production of that energy needs to be stored.

Mining for the cobalt, nickel and lithium necessary for batteries large enough to make a dent in global electrical grids would be ecologically disastrous, dependent upon slave labor, and ultimately unsustainable.

So Swiss engineers have figured out a way to store that energy in water rather than precious metals.

The way it works is simple, but genius.

When solar or wind energy production is high, the excess energy is used to pump millions of gallons of water up from a low-level reservoir in the Swiss Alps to another reservoir higher up above it.

The water is then stored in the higher altitude, man-made lake as potential hydro power, which is released down through the turbines into the lower reservoir when demand for electricity is high.

The water is recycled back and forth this way indefinitely, creating one of the world’s largest “batteries” capable of storing 20 million kilowatt hours of electricity.

Switzerland’s new water battery has an energy storage capacity equal to almost half a million electric cars, and can power almost a million homes.

After 14 years of construction, the battery became operational on July 1, 2022.

It has the capacity to stabilize not only Switzerland’s electrical grid, but all of Europe’s.

“It is far too big for Switzerland”, says lead engineer and director of the Nant de Drance pumped-storage hydroelectric plant project Alain Sauthier.

“It can play a role in stabilizing the grid at European level. We are geographically at the heart of the continent and energy flows pass through Switzerland. If there is an overproduction of wind power in Germany, we can use the surplus electricity to pump and store water [for France].”

There are over 600,000 sites around the world that are geographically suitable for building similar hydro-pumping plants, according to Matthew Stocks of the Australian National University.

If even 1% of them were built, it would solve all the world’s problems with the storage of intermittent renewable energy sources, he says.