Thyssenkrupp Uhde South Africa, a subsidiary of industrial conglomerate Thyssenkrupp, and mining remediation firm Wismut will undertake a pre-feasibility study for a “renewable underground pumped hydroelectric energy storage” (RUPHES) project at a depleted mine in South African.
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Pumped Hydroelectric Storage Sweden, which is now building a 2MW/8MWh underground pumped energy storage project in an abandoned iron mine in Aland, Finland, with the assistance of the European Commission and the Swedish Energy Agency, has also struck an agreement with the two German firms.
RUPHES at depleted mines, coupled with solar and wind power, can reliably provide green energy when it is needed while repurposing depleted gold mines enables short construction schedules and significantly reduced costs.
According to Thyssenkrupp, the main reason is that gold mining has already built underground water storage reservoirs, which are frequently the most expensive components of pumped hydro facilities. They just need to be adapted to their new use.
Despite the fact that virtually all of it is now above ground, pumped hydro accounts for 97% of worldwide power storage capacity, according to the firm.
Using South Africa’s ultra-low solar production prices as an example, Thyssenkrupp believes that ultra-deep gold mines, with their high hydraulic heads and stable hard rock geology, are ideal for implementing the concept and producing cost-competitive, reliable green electricity, as well as green hydrogen and green ammonia.
According to the German business, a South African gold mining corporation stated in June 2021 that it can create electricity from solar power for 1.1 US cents per kilowatt-hour, one of the world’s lowest solar energy production rates.
South Africa’s world-class solar and wind resources, as well as the fact that generating energy from renewables is less expensive in South Africa than importing foreign gas, are gaining support in government and business.