Inside Electric Mountain: Britain's biggest rechargeable battery

"This is because the two reservoirs are linked by one of Britain’s biggest post-war industrial projects: the Dinorwig pumped storage power station, hidden within this mountain. It is effectively a monster battery: power is stored by pumping water from Llyn Peris to Marchlyn Mawr at night, then generated by letting it flow back down at times of peak demand"
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/05/16/geeks_guide_electric_mountain/
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On 16/05/16 15:14, Mike Tomlinson wrote:

What's even more amazing is that with the press of a button marked "MAXGEN"[1], it can go from zero to full output in 15 seconds.
[1] At least when the control was at Bankside
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On Mon, 16 May 2016 16:07:05 +0100, Tim Watts wrote:

ISTR the 0 to 360MW time was 10 seconds[A], according to the full-time tour guide at Dinorwig's "Electric Mountain" (and, iirc, this fact was also mentioned by the part time "Tour Guide"[B] at the Ffestiniog PSH facility on a prior visit when we were informed that the 0 to full output time there was 60 seconds).
[A] This only applied when one (possibly more) of the 360MW gensets were motoring the runners in dry air at a cost of a mere 4MW draw from the national grid for each genset. ISTR Dinorwig had a total of 6 gensets whilst Ffestiniog only had four[C]).
[B] The "Tour Guides" at Ffestiniog were only part timers on account of their main job being plant maintenance engineers. Without a doubt, the quality of the information being imparted (both prepared spiel and answers to questions raised by their audiences) was far superior to that given by the full time tour guides at Dinorwig.
Assuming Ffestiniog still operates guided tours these days, if you're planning on touring both facilities, I'd recommend saving the Ffestiniog tour for last just to save an anticlimactic disappointment unless you're a bit of a technophobe (in which case, only do the Dinorwig tour and forget the Ffestiniog one).
[C] I think, from memory alone, Ffestiniog's gensets were 180MW each. Easy enough to check with google but ICBA right now. :-)
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On 16/05/16 19:42, Johnny B Good wrote:

My source was a Nat Grid Engineer who's job involved maintaining the original control panel :)
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Ah, that's why the two old ladies wet themselves.
"He adds that staff activate them without warning. Once, a group of more mature ladies were standing by unit one when this happened. Amazing how fast they went round the rest of the tour, he adds"
I think I quite fancy a trip there this summer.
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Well worth it. Driving a 40 seat coach *into* a mountain is impressive enough, but they take into the turbine hall, which is even more so.
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On Mon, 16 May 2016 16:07:05 +0100, Tim Watts wrote:

I think that's from in sync spinning in air, rather than stationary. The switch round from fully pumping to full generation is the one that is really impressive. It's not that much longer than the in sync/spinning in air one but there is an awful lot of water that has to change direction of movement.
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They keep one turbine spinning all the time in order to provide "instant" output. I think it's rather less that 15 seconds, too.
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On 16 May 2016 21:31:51 GMT, Huge wrote:

marked

stationary.

The information about the various start times seems to have disappeared from the web. A turbine on line and using water I should imagine can go from "tickover" to full chat as fast as the inlet valve can open. As you say I'd expect rather less than 15 seconds.
I wonder how many tonnes of water per second each turbine uses at maxium output?
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On Wed, 18 May 2016 09:13:12 +0100 (BST), "Dave Liquorice"

At maximum flow to the turbine hall is 60 cu.m/sec. There are 6 turbines, so 10 cu.m/sec. i.e. 10 tonnes/sec. each http://tinyurl.com/4nj8a9
I get the impression that they can keep them spinning with compressed air, which reduces the time to full output compared with a standing start. But whether all of them spin that way, all of the time, I don't know.
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On Wed, 18 May 2016 09:29:04 +0100, Chris Hogg wrote:

The 10 seconds figure I mentioned related to the time it took to open or close the giant penstock gate valve(s) feeding the turbines.

They don't use compressed air to keep them spinning whenever they need them in 'Hot Standby' running in air. The turbines use the generator as a motor to maintain synchronous speed so all that is required to change from motoring mode to generator mode is basically just a matter of "Turning on the tap" and adjusting the excitation current to raise the stator output voltage.
This rather neatly avoids the need to synchronise from a standing start but at a cost of 4MW per turbine. I'm afraid I can't recall whether all six turbine sets had this hot standby running in air capability or not. One thing is for certain, the 90MW turbine sets at Ffestiniog had no such hot standby feature, hence their much longer 60 seconds run up time.
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On 18/05/16 20:50, Johnny B Good wrote:

Pretty much any directly coupled AC generator generator is a motor and will normally sit there happily taking mains power to spin, until something causes it to try and spin faster when its internal phase advances and it starts to push the current along as a true generator.
However in grid terms 60 seconds is 'instant' anyway. There is enough energy storage in all those spinning rotors on the grid* to cope with fluctuations in demand on that sort of timescale.
*'intermittent renewable' energy excepted. The electronic converters have no sort of storage in them such as that afforded by huge spinning turbines.
Years ago I was on board an aircraft used as a research tug by Decca radar. There was this whining noise in the cabin... 'what's that?' 'that's the rotary converter to generate mains voltage from the batteries' 'Ugh! why not have a (then newfangled) transistorised inverter!?' 'because that rotary convertor can survive the 50% voltage drop we get when pulling up the undercarriage, for 30 seconds'
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The spinning reserve turbine is spun with electricity, not water.
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On Wed, 18 May 2016 20:39:03 +0000, Huge wrote:

Indeed, this is so and consumes 4MW from the grid just to keep the turbine running in air synchronised with the grid so that it is only a trivial matter of "Opening the Tap" and increasing excitation to reverse the energy flow from 'motoring' to 'generating'.
The ten seconds time is that required to operate the penstock valve(s) but I believe it takes another two seconds for the turbine's automatic governor control to fine tune and stabilise for the generator loading.
The only thing I can't recall is whether this "Hot Standby" mode (spinning the turbine in dry air) applied only to one of the 6 turbine/ gensets or whether to more than just the one or, indeed, all 6 gensets.
This "Hot Standby" mode is fairly trivial to implement[1] so I'd be surprised if at least one other genset didn't also have this feature if only to cover for routine maintenance on the "Primary Hot Standby" genset. Even if they never intended to run more than any one genset in hot standby (4MW running cost), including this feature, I would imagine, on *all* 6 turbines could provide useful diversity of plant usage.
[1] Basically, it's simply a matter of leaving the genset connected to the grid after being run up and synchronised then shutting off the water to let the generator motor on as any such generator would do in the absence of mechanical drive from its prime mover whether steam or gas turbine or, in this case, high pressure water jets.
The Francis turbine in this case remains dry in order to minimise unwanted drag (even so, it still needs energy input from the grid at a work rate of 4MW). The only extra complication that may arise out of such a motoring mode might be a cooling issue due to the lack of water flow within the turbine itself.
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On 5/16/2016 3:14 PM, Mike Tomlinson wrote:

Never been there, but there used to be (perhaps still is) an interesting drive through big underground tunnels to get to the control rooms for RAF Fylingdales. I had the good fortune in the 1980s to have a tour including the inside of one of the original Golf-balls which contained big steerable parabolic dishes, in the days before phased array radar.
This was seriously impressive mechanical engineering (and had an amazingly good availability). I can't immediately spot any web links, but it's the sort of thing which should have been preserved, but hasn't been.
It was also a bit of a time warp, being manned by RAF officers with more than a passing resemblance to Peter Sellers' Wing Commander in Dr Strangelove.
We watched a video of a test made on an American site, but they also ran a test for us there, after talking to their opposite numbers in Wyoming.
In the American film, as the blips were confirmed on the screens to controller drawled slowly "We are entering a severe tactical situation". At the same point in the UK test, the two RAF officers were literally hopping up and down with excitement, saying "It's a raid, it's a raid, it's definitely a raid!".
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Can there be anyone who did not already know about this?I remember when it was being built and all the hype surrounding it. Is it still the only one? Brian
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On 17/05/16 08:12, Brian Gaff wrote:

No, and its not even the first, cos I went round one in wales in the 60s.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ffestiniog_Power_Station

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On Tue, 17 May 2016 08:12:18 +0100, Brian Gaff wrote:

No, Brian. As I've already mentioned, there's a smaller version just up the road at Ffestiniog. Apart from the smaller scale (just four 180MW turbine motor/generators), Ffestiniog isn't buried inside a mountain.
BTW, according to wikipedia, Dinorwig's 6 turbine motor/generators are 300MW, not the 360MW I claimed (possibly a conflation of twice 180MW of a Ffestiniog turbine and the actual 300MW of the Dinorwig units).
Both facilities are well worth the guided tours (assuming they're still being run at Ffestiniog - I visited the place about a decade back).
Dinorwig is very impressive for its sheer scale and the fact that it's completely self contained within the man made caverns of a mountain but is very light on technical detail (full time tour guides).
Ffestiniog doesn't have the grand scale of Dinorwig but you get to see a lot more of the machinery close up under the guidance of part time tour guides whose day job is maintaining and operating the station which means you get much higher quality information on the technicalities of operating a pumped storage hydro station, especially if you care to ask the "Tour Guide" supplemental questions (which, when tried on the Dinorwig tour guides, often got a blank stare or, at best, an oversimplified explanation that begged more questions than answers - luckily today, there's always wikipedia to help fill in the missing blanks although it falls short of 'hearing it from the horse's mouth' experience at Ffestiniog).
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There is also a similar scheme at Ben Cruachan in Scotland. It's knowna s the Hollow Mountain.
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On Tue, 17 May 2016 08:12:18 +0100, Brian Gaff wrote:

The Ffestiniog unit just down the road actually has a *total* capacity of 360MW. The turbine sets are only rated at 90MW each, not the 180MW I mentioned previously. My bad for not double checking the facts and relying on memory alone. :-(
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