Could abandoned mines be the key to energy storage?
Michigan Technological University and the city of Negaunee are working together to find out – they are performing tests at the disused Mather B iron mine to test whether pumped hydroelectric storage could be profitably used to supply power to communities throughout the region.
Marquette County is home to about 200 underground mine sites and the organisations conducting the study hope they could be used to help balance the energy system’s needs when demand is high but supply is low.
They say projects of this kind would help preserve historic mines while providing an invisible way to support the power grid.
Roman Sidortsov, Assistant Professor of Energy Policy, said: “If we move the entire system below ground and make it self-contained, there would be no effect on surface water flow, ecological systems or landscapes or scenic views.
“An underground pumped hydro storage system might be essentially invisible.”