Does a Centuries Old Mine in New York Represent a Zero Waste Energy Storage Solution?

One of the biggest hurdles green energy faces is storage. While it’s true that the sun, the wind, and the tide all produce force we can harness to create electricity, we don’t live our lives according to these environmental factors. So what do we do when we need power, but there’s no sunshine, the wind has died, and the tide has gone out?

Well, ideally, we’d dip into our reserves.

The problem is that we don’t yet have a universal way of storing the green energy we generate, but aren’t using. From traditional batteries, to hydrogen gas, to gravity batteries, we have experimented with a lot of solutions. In New York state, though, engineers and scientists may have hit on a brilliant way to recycle old mines that we aren’t doing anything with.

Turning Defunct Mines Into Zero Waste Energy Storage

The theory is pretty simple, according to Yahoo! News. There’s a centuries-old iron mine in Mineville, Ny, which has been defunct since the 1970s. To put it in perspective, this mine was first tapped for iron ore during the Revolutionary War. It’s sat empty and unused for years, and during that time millions of gallons of groundwater have accumulated in the old tunnels. A group of engineers looked at this problematic situation, and thought of a way to turn it to our advantage.

While the work is complicated, the goal is simple. Install turbines and pumps that can pump the water out of the ground, and into a holding tank. The pumps are run by excess green energy. Then, when night falls, the wind dies down, etc., and the demand for electricity rises, the water is released from its tanks. It turns the turbines, which produce electricity, evening out the supply versus the demand.

This is not a new theory, but it may mark the first time a facility like an abandoned mine has been used for energy storage purposes. And if the project is successful (though approval and construction mean there are years of work between then and now) it could lead to a lot of other “useless” mines being given a new lease on life.