Ontario’s latest electricity scheme: Pumped energy storage

USACE_Seneca_Pumped_Storage_CloseupFinancial Post
As the Ontario government’s $1-billion gas plant relocation scandal slips into history, the province’s electricity ratepayers should not assume that the era of big-ticket rate-boosting power projects of questionable value is a thing of the past. Now comes the “Smart Grid” and a host of other projects.

Smart Grid is the new fad taking over power industry policy everywhere — it’s a flexible concept that gives utilities, contractors and governments room to justify ratepayer spending on “Smart Meters,” electric cars, power line automation and the new hot idea of electricity storage.

None of these ideas comes cheap, including pumped electricity storage, a plan making its way through the province’s electric industrial complex. Pumped storage was traditionally used where excess low-cost electricity was available during low-usage periods. The economic logic was that cheap excess power justified the cost of recapturing a portion of the excess for later use. Read article

23 thoughts on “Ontario’s latest electricity scheme: Pumped energy storage

    • And pumped storage is a complete and utter waste of money:

      If we adopt solar and wind as major components of our energy infrastructure as we are weaned from fossil fuels, we have to solve the energy storage problem in a big way. An earlier post demonstrated that we do not likely possess enough materials in the world to simply build giant lead-acid (or nickel-based or lithium-based) batteries to do the job. Comments frequently pointed to pumped hydro storage as a far more sensible answer. Indeed, pumped storage is currently the dominant—and nearly only—grid-scale storage solution out there. Here, we will take a peek at pumped hydro and evaluate what it can do for us.

      Ontario Liberals — burning your money…

      Drain the Great Lakes

      While we’re having “fun,” let’s see what we could get out of the Great Lakes. The upper four lakes are all at essentially the same elevation (6 meter drop from Superior to Erie), while there is a 99 m drop between Erie and Ontario. We call this Niagra Falls, although only half the drop is developed across the falls proper.

      If we drained one meter from every upper lake, we would get 54 billion kWh of energy: about a sixth of the target capacity. If performed over seven days, the flow would be 375,000 cubic meters per second, or 125 times the normal flow over the falls. Now I’d pay to see that! But I would first want to visit every town along the St. Lawrence River one last time.

      If we tried to trap the water in Lake Ontario so-as to spare those downstream of the wrath, its level would rise 12 meters (39 feet). Watch out Toronto & Rochester!

      The pipe delivering this water to the turbines would have to be over 125 meters in diameter (or 160 tubes each 10 m in diameter) to limit the velocity of the water through the pipes/turbines to below freeway speeds! What fun.

      Why not just drain the Great Lakes — entertainment for the future??? Sure — why not?

      Liberals — better than “Dumb and Dumber” — but worse than petulant six your old children in the playground… And some Tories admire them…

      • Right on target!! Energy storage, via any “gravity” method (as compared to more dense capacity, e.g. battery, compressed air, flywheels etc.) just does not have the storage density to be practically-useful for the required large scale storage required.
        May seem counter-intuitive, and will be difficult for technically-illiterate greenies and politicians to understand and grasp; but….it’s an inconvenient truth.

  1. $34 million (and increasing every year) U.S. Federal Court settlement for operating the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant (LPSP)

    About GLFT
    The Great Lakes Fishery Trust (GLFT) was created in May 1996 as a means of compensating the residents of Michigan for the lost use and enjoyment of the fishery resources of Lake Michigan caused by the operation of the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant (LPSP), located in Ludington, Michigan.

    • A pre-existing facility at Ludington power plant pumps L Michigan water uphill to a storage area for later use. Many fish are entrained and killed in the process. Now wind turbines are seeking to locate in the area to take advantage of existing facility. (Modern closed-loop pumped storage systems are said to be more fish-friendly.)

      • More depth – in the reader comment section (below article)

        ‘[excerpt] HARBOR BEACH — The Harbor Beach School Board has received some disturbing information. According to Superintendent Lawrence Kroswek, funds from the school’s millage may be smaller than expected.

        Kroswek received notice that DTE has petitioned the courts to lower the SEV on 14 parcels of land owned by the power company. The land in question is in the Harbor Beach School District. If it is approved, DTE will end up paying less money on bond issues for the school district.

        After receiving the notification, Kroswek contacted Harbor Beach Mayor Gary Booms, who was unaware of the maneuver by DTE.

        If any of the parcels are within the city of Harbor Beach, it will also impact revenue coming into the city. The mayor told Kroswek he would be looking into the matter.

        The superintendent told the board he would be contacting other superintendents in the area to see if the situation is happening in their school districts. Any new information will be presented at future Harbor Beach Board meetings.

      • It’s always about the children………..

        The Great Lakes Fishery Trust (GLFT) – $54,500 grant

        Findings and Recommendations to the Great Lakes Fishery Trust about
        Integrating Place-Based Education, Professional Development and
        School-Community Partnerships

        This report summarizes the results of a short-term but comprehensive study completed for the Great Lakes Fishery Trust (GLFT)
        by the Great Lakes Water Studies Institute (GLWSI) at Northwestern Michigan College.
        The primary purpose of the study was to identify and assess strategies that could be used to increase stewardship of the Great Lakes, with special emphasis on the prospect of integrating place-based education,
        professional development for educators, and
        school-community partnerships.
        The study was conducted in February—September 2005, was funded by a $54,500 grant from the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, and
        focused on eight key outcomes:

        Creating Stewards of the Great Lakes

        To a predetermined end –
        sustainability – yes really.

  2. Todd Smith has to be held up as the worst example of an uninformed politician and the PC Party should ask him to either leave or STFU about this insanity called “pumped storage”.
    Just another FRAUDULENT scheme to make money off tax payers for a “few good old back room buddies!!!

  3. Best to move now to find a replacemnet for Smith. Can’t afford to have know- nothings as MPPs.
    Backing pumped storage equals backing IWTs. No IWTs no storage needed.

  4. The people in this area just came through the OP ERT. Maybe it’s about time that they started adding things up?

  5. Margaret, Dow is making both batteries and solar shingles so the company has invested big time in these ventures. Dow is losing money on the batteries which were supposed to have been used in EVs but there is no market for EVs at the present time.
    Solar shingles have fire safety issues just like solar panels have.

  6. I don’t think we’ve seen the end of inventive ideas to store excess wind energy. One proposed for offshore Toronto uses excess energy to submerge huge balloons, which when released in water column release the energy. I only hope more damage is not done to environment (including people) in quest to capture energy otherwise lost.

    • Not only the link above — here is a free book on energy — green and otherwise.


      Both authors reach the same conclusions — they really want it to work — they really do — but the numbers are so darn inconvenient.

      I recently read two books, one by a physicist, and one by an economist.
      In Out of Gas, Caltech physicist David Goodstein describes an impending
      energy crisis brought on by The End of the Age of Oil. This crisis is coming
      soon, he predicts: the crisis will bite, not when the last drop of oil is
      extracted, but when oil extraction can’t meet demand – perhaps as soon
      as 2015 or 2025. Moreover, even if we magically switched all our energy-
      guzzling to nuclear power right away, Goodstein says, the oil crisis would
      simply be replaced by a nuclear crisis in just twenty years or so, as uranium
      reserves also became depleted.

      In The Skeptical Environmentalist, Bjørn Lomborg paints a completely
      different picture. “Everything is fine.” Indeed, “everything is getting bet-
      ter.” Furthermore, “we are not headed for a major energy crisis,” and
      “there is plenty of energy.”

      How could two smart people come to such different conclusions? I had
      to get to the bottom of this.

      Well, I don’t think he gets to the bottom of things — but at least he can do math and write purty gud eh? Not a lot of Greenie can do math at all — and if they can — it’s political math… math with a purpose and a slant…

      At least this author is straight with the numbers.

  7. Renewable energy is not based on logic and the sooner an energy crisis brought on by renewables happens in the world the better off the rest of the world will be.
    A bit of Irish history here and the same was true in Scotland when the woolen mills in England began requiring ever more wool the landowners in Ireland found out that they could get more from raising sheep than renting out plots of land. Then the “clearances” began where rural peole were forced off from the land and had to emigrate to North America and Australia.
    The Irish have long memories about supplying goods to England at their expense.

    • good analogy.

      in case of Scots, dress and pipes were outlawed. they were burned out and herded off and men were sent off to serve as cannon fodder. only when marched off could they play their pipes. emigration was only allowed once the elites realized they needed willing hands to wrest a new world for queen and country. new clearances in rural ontario now of descendants of original settlers compliments of the benevolent state. What’s changed in 200 years?

  8. It seems that not a whole lot has changed in 200 years.
    Most people don’t know that you needed permission to emigrate.
    In the case of Ireland by about 1870’s the forced emigration caused a labour shortage.
    About 250 years ago a soldier could get one way tickets for himself and his family to settle in North America. Provided an army and settlers at the same time.

  9. After the Napoleonic wars in Europe were over, Ireland had a lot of unemployed veterans and they could sign up for militia duty in Canada and get their passage paid.
    Around the 1840s-1850s passage was 4 pounds to Canada and 5 pounds to New York per person. Bring your own food for the voyage. This was not first class which was about 11 pounds.

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