Storing Electricity with Water

Genesis 1:28
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

One of the most interesting vacation jobs that I got as a university student was with a team of engineers at Dinorwig pump-storage power station in North Wales. At the time, the power station was under construction. Built deep in the heart of the Elidir Fawr mountain, water drops 1,750 feet from the Marchlyn Mawr reservoir into Llyn Peris – a lake at the foot of the mountain, adjacent to the town of Llanberis. The cascading water drives six turbines, producing 1,800 MW of electricity, and can achieve full load in 9 seconds. But Marchlyn Mawr does not have a natural source of water – in off-peak times, Dinorwig actually consumes electricity, reversing the turbines into pumps, to send water back up from Llyn Peris below. In truth, Dinorwig is a clever method of storing electricity from nuclear and coal-fired power plants at times of low demand and using it again in peak periods.

However, no such system can be 100% efficient. Turbine wheels waste energy through friction when used in either direction. Dinorwig achieves 80% efficiency due to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that in every energy change, some energy becomes unusable, usually in the form of low-temperature heat. The Second Law is actually a blessing. Without it, we would slip and slide everywhere when we walk, and our guts would not be able to digest food. Without God, we would not understand how such amazing technology could contribute to our dominion over this world.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your wisdom in making this world, so that we could inhabit it. Amen.

Author: Paul F. Taylor

Ref: Dinorwig Power Station, Electric Mountain, < https://www.electricmountain.co.uk/ >, accessed 10/26/2019. Image: Public Domain.

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