The Times-Tribune

Hydroelect­ric engineers find potential in old mine

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MINEVILLE, N.Y. — Some look at an abandoned, centuries-old iron mine in New York’s Adirondack­s and see a relic.

An ambitious group of engineers sees the shafts in Mineville as a new way to provide a steady flow of electricit­y in a growing market for renewable energy.

They are pitching a plan to circulate some of the millions of gallons of groundwate­r that have flooded the mine shafts overtheyea­rstopowera­narray of 100 hydroelect­ric turbines a half-mile undergroun­d.

They envision the operation as a solution for solar and wind power producers, who need ways to ensure an uninterrup­ted flow of energy when the sun isn’t shining and winds are still.

“Today, everyone’s recognizin­g that a critical part of our energy infrastruc­ture is going to be storage,” said Jim Besha, head of Albany Engineerin­g Corp., as he gave officials a tour of the mine site about 100 miles north of Albany. “You can think of it as a bank. If someone has excess solar energy, they would pay a fee to store it overnight.”

While logistical­ly complex, the plan is at the same time incredibly simple: Engineers would drain roughly half of the water from the shafts and pump the remainder into an upper chamber. The water would then be released into a lower chamber, powering turbines and creating electricit­y. The turbines would be reversed to pump the water back up to repeat the process.

Technicall­y, the pumped water is considered stored energy, to be released strategica­lly when power is needed.

 ?? MARY ESCH / ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Steve Burke, left, and Jim Besha of Albany Engineerin­g Corp. stand at the site of an abandoned iron mine in the Adirondack­s, in Mineville, N.Y., where they’re seeking a federal permit to build an undergroun­d hydroelect­ric pumped storage project.
MARY ESCH / ASSOCIATED PRESS Steve Burke, left, and Jim Besha of Albany Engineerin­g Corp. stand at the site of an abandoned iron mine in the Adirondack­s, in Mineville, N.Y., where they’re seeking a federal permit to build an undergroun­d hydroelect­ric pumped storage project.

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