Intelligent Energy

Chu calls for hydro storage to conserve clean energy

Chu calls for hydro storage to conserve clean energy

Posting in Energy

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has recommended to his advisory board that the United States build new hydro storage facilities.

United States Energy Secretary Steven Chu

There's no need to "duck and cover" this time around. Energy Secretary Steven Chu is proposing that the United States dust off 60's era hydro engineering technology that's associated with nuclear power, so that today's clean energy does not go to waste.

When a windmill is generating electricity during gusty non-peak hours, some of that energy could be wasted. The same principle applied to a nuclear power plant, which has a steady energy output.

Chu advocated pumped hydro storage as a best of class solution to storing excess renewable energy during a recent meeting with his energy advisory board, Greenwire reports. Using pumped hydro storage to store electricity ($100 per kilowatt-hour) is significantly more efficient than using sodium ion flow batteries, he said ($400 per kWh)

Pumped hydro facilities use excess power to pump water uphill to a reservoir during peak hours, which is later released over a turbine to create more electricity. Think of it as load balancing for electricity.

Engineers during the 60, 70's, and 80's built pumped hydro storage so that any excess nuclear energy did not go to waste. Chu recommended that new hydro facilities be built to help integrate renewable power into the electrical grid.

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David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure