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Pump Hydro Energy Storage systems (PHES) in groundwater flooded quarries

Abstract : Pump storage hydroelectricity is an efficient way to temporarily store energy. This technique requires to store temporarily a large volume of water in an upper reservoir, and to release it through turbines to the lower reservoir, to produce electricity. Recently, the idea of using old flooded quarries as a lower reservoir has been evoked. However, these flooded quarries are generally connected to unconfined aquifers. Consequently, pumping or injecting large volumes of water, within short time intervals, will have an impact on the adjacent aquifers. Conversely, water exchanges between the quarry and the aquifer may also influence the water level fluctuations in the lower reservoir. Using numerical modelling, this study investigates the interactions between generic flooded open pit quarries and adjacent unconfined aquifers, during various pump-storage cyclic stresses. The propagation of sinusoidal stresses in the adjacent porous media and the amplitude of water level fluctuations in the quarry are studied. Homogeneous rock media and the presence of fractures in the vicinity of the quarry are considered. Results show that hydrological quarry – rock interactions must be considered with caution, when implementing pump – storage systems. For rock media characterized by high hydraulic conductivity and porosity values, water volumes exchanges during cycles may affect significantly the amplitude of the water level fluctuations in the quarry, and as a consequence, the instantaneous electricity production. Regarding the impact of the pump – storage cyclic stresses on the surrounding environment, the distance of influence is potentially high under specific conditions, and is enhanced with the occurrence of rock heterogeneities, such as fractures. The impact around the quarry used as a lower reservoir thus appears as an important constraining factor regarding the feasibility of pump – storage systems, to be assessed carefully if groundwater level fluctuations around the quarry are expected to bring up adverse effects. Results highlight opportunities and challenges to be faced, to implement pump – storage hydroelectricity systems in old flooded open pit quarries.
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Angélique Poulain, Jean-Raynald de Dreuzy, Pascal Goderniaux. Pump Hydro Energy Storage systems (PHES) in groundwater flooded quarries. Journal of Hydrology, Elsevier, 2018, 559, pp.1002-1012. ⟨10.1016/j.jhydrol.2018.02.025⟩. ⟨insu-01739484⟩

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