"This Kentucky Coal Mine Could Transform Into Pumped-Hydro Grid Storage"

"With $81M from DOE, Rye Development aims to build the first pumped-hydro project on the site of a former mine to bolster the grid and revitalize the local economy."

"The vision of converting coal country into a clean energy powerhouse looms large in the American energy transition. Politicians love to tout the possibility, and climate advocates see it as crucial for a just transition that avoids leaving populations behind as coal power fades away. But finding the right form of clean energy to achieve this is harder in practice — putting some solar panels over a coal mine doesn’t replicate the economic engine that once existed there.

A company called Rye Development thinks the way to go is constructing pumped-hydro energy storage on old coal mining sites, turning them into resources that help stabilize the grid for decades to come. Last week, the Department of Energy selected Rye to receive $81 million to develop one of these projects in the southeastern corner of Kentucky, on land that has hosted mining for at least 70 years. The Lewis Ridge project would deliver up to 287 megawatts of power for up to 8 hours, giving it more storage in the tank than the biggest lithium battery plants built thus far.

Rye believes pumped hydro can solve two problems at once: ensuring grid reliability in the face of extreme weather events and closures of coal and gas plants, and rejuvenating hard-working communities that have lost jobs and a local tax base after toiling for decades to supply America’s energy needs. The current project, in Kentucky’s Bell County, would create 1,500 family-wage construction jobs and could operate for as long as a century."

Julian Spector reports for Canary Media March 27, 2024.

Source: Canary Media, 03/29/2024