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Solar Energy Camps
Environment – Nestled between Nuremberg and Hamburg, the Harz Mountains in central Germany are having difficulty overcoming their history as former site of Nazi labor concentration camps, turned Soviet spy facility, after the fall of the Third Reich.
The region, which was once “famous for its industry, culture and nature” now feels like “the end of the world,” said Florian Kroeckel, who grew up there.
“It really needs the jobs as well as the cultural life to come back,” she added.
Meanwhile, renewable energy is having a similar problem as well.
Germany has invested “many billions of dollars into wind and solar. But no amount of money can make the wind blow nor the sun shine consistently.”
Nonetheless, Berlin is still determined to have 35 percent of its electricity come from renewables by 2020, and a mind-boggling 80 percent by 2050, all while phasing out nuclear, which currently powers a significant portion of the country.
To make green energy more reliable, German planners see a solution — at least in part — in the region’s long abandoned underground shaft mines, which they say can be utilized to store energy produced by renewables.
The technology is called hydroelectric pump storage, and allows an “elegant solution that deploys the energy potential of gravity.”
When “the wind is blowing or the sun is shining, excess electricity will be used to pump water upwards, into storage tanks within the mines. Then, when nature isn’t cooperating sufficiently to meet energy demands, that water is released down into the mines. As it descends, it turns turbines located down below, creating electricity.”
And it promises to do so without the environmental impact wrought by huge dams and reservoirs.
“The industrial base in Harz is not so large or well-developed, and the old mines could breathe new life into it,” he said. “It could bring jobs and economic revival.”
Read more at Global Post.