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Virginia Passes Law Allowing Pumped-Storage Hydropower At Empty Coal Mines

By Brian Spaen

Old coal mines that have been abandoned could have an important role in our future. Ben Chafin, the Virginia senator, believes that these empty areas could be filled with renewable energy sources and the state government has passed legislation to do that. A couple of electric companies in the area will be researching to see how this will be attainable.

The companies behind that research are Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power. So far, they’ve developed a method of creating pumped-storage hydroelectric power. There would be two pools of water -- one above the coal mine and one in the shaft. Gallons of water would be pushed up to the top, and when power needs to be generated, the water would run down into the mines through a hydropower plant.

Bloomberg details how this process works. During non-peak hours, the water will be pumped to the top level through other stored energy usage. This water will be held back in a pool and a door that leads into a power plant. When more energy is required to meet demand, such as during those peak hours, those doors open and the water will rush through the plant. Since it will be downhill, no energy is required to move the water this time around. The rush of liquid will power turbines, and that will push electricity to consumers.