After 14 years of work, Switzerland already has its commitment to the future of energy: a gigantic water battery

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In the Swiss Alps there are not only ski resorts and charming villages: now there is also a unique energy storage system. The country just inaugurated a facility that had been years in the making and cost a small fortune. Whether the result is as promising as it seems remains to be seen.

A gigantic water battery. There are many amazing things in this project, but one of them is definitely that water drum concept that has been used. Thanks to this engineering work, Switzerland now has a huge “battery” that can store 20 GWh of energy, equivalent to what 400,000 electric cars would store in their batteries.

A mammoth project. the Nant de Drance Hydroelectric Plant, in the canton of Valais, Switzerland, began construction in 2008, and is capable of producing 900 MW. This part of production is combined with the most unique part, that of its storage in a remarkable water transfer system. The cost of the project has been almost 2,000 million dollars.

Renewables have a very valuable ally, and it is not hydroelectric pumping, nor batteries, nor hydrogen: it is compressed air

digging takes time. Much of the construction and installation is underground and it has been necessary to dig tunnels with a total length of 18 km. Once they were built, the materials for the construction of the entire infrastructure could be moved, including the enormous engine room that measures 200 meters long and 32 meters wide.

The dam of one of the reservoirs even had to be raised 20 meters to increase the energy storage capacity of this gigantic water basin, but the result is formidable and thanks to this project it is possible to supply electricity to 900,000 homes.

Long live the reservoirs. The plant makes use of two existing reservoirs for its operation. Each one of them is at a different height, and when the demand for energy increases, the water that is in the reservoir on the upper level can be released. As it falls it passes through various turbines that generate electricity and can be used to power the entire electrical grid.

After generating electricity, the water from the hydroelectric plant is discharged to the lower reservoir, which allows the generation of up to 20 GWh of energy. When the energy demand drops, for example at night, the turbines reverse their direction of operation and the water can be pumped back to the upper reservoir.

This is more important than it seems. This Swiss project is one more step in those more sustainable and efficient efforts not only to take advantage of renewable energies, but also to store energy. The options do not stop emerging and we are seeing the rise of production alternatives such as offshore wind, geothermal, green hydrogen and, of course, nuclear energy.

But as we said, the advances and efforts are not only in production but also in distribution -with increasingly spectacular submarine cables- and in storage with ingenious battery systems. The dependence on fossil fuels is still great, but all these projects offer promising solutions.

In the Swiss Alps there are not only ski resorts and charming villages: now there is also a unique energy…

In the Swiss Alps there are not only ski resorts and charming villages: now there is also a unique energy…

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