Hydro battery in the Swiss mountains and development of offshore wind farms

Nant de Drance is a hydro battery built in the Swiss canton of Valais, located in a cave 600 m underground between two water bodies. The battery, which costs more than EUR 2 billion to build, stores the electricity that can accumulate in 400,000 electric car batteries (its capacity is 20,000 MWh). The 17-kilometre-long Nant de Drance tunnel houses six turbines powered by water flowing down a steel pipe in a cave the length of two football fields.

Covering more than 129 square kilometres of the North Sea, the Beatrice offshore wind farm at the northern tip of the UK is home to 84 turbines. Among those working on them are Wick’s former fishing port residents. The UK now generates more than 10% of its electricity from offshore farms, and on some gusty days, such as 2 November this year, wind generates more than half of the electricity the British people needs. UK investment in facilities such as Beatrice last year amounted to £6.7 billion, about twice as much as in oil and gas extraction.

In East African countries, including Tanzania, solar power company Zola Electric proposes building independent “mini-grids”  for villages and other communities rather than linking solar panel farms to nationwide power systems. In South Africa, meanwhile, the government aims to produce an additional 1 000 MW from solar power, enough to supply electricity to around one million households in the country.

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