An abandoned open-pit mine in Canada is being proposed to be made useful once more as a pumped storage facility. The Northland Power Marmora Pumped Storage facility offers the possibility of turning a blighted, destroyed piece of land into something with value for advancing renewable power systems.
The pumped storage would be "five times the height of Niagara Falls,"according to the Globe and Mail, though the fact that it would have far less volume than Niagara gets far less attention. Nevertheless, the proposed facility would have the capacity to provide up to 400 megawatts to the grid for up to 5 hours.
Because of their relatively low cost, pumped storage facilities can have the capacity to provide much more power than more technical power storage methods like batteries or flywheels. Pumped storage facilities have both a rated capacity (like the proposed facility's 400 MW), which determines the peak power they are able to deliver, as well as the number of hours they are able to produce power at that level, which is determined by the size of the reservoir.
The location of the proposed facility is well situated in the midst of Ontario's heavily populated southeast, between Ottawa and Toronto, where there is high demand for power. Surplus power from both renewable and conventional sources can be used to pump water up into the upper reservoir during periods of low demand, and then that power can be used in place of costlier peaker power plants during periods of high demand.
Pumped storage is not for power production, but instead provides storage for power from other sources. It makes renewable power generation more effective by allowing surplus production to be stored for later use, rather than being lost at times when demand is low.
link: Northland Power (video)