Could the ocean make pumped hydro power? In the Middle East, it could.
A brilliant proposal has been made to build a massive 2,400 MW sea water hydro project using the Mediterranean Sea, and the Dead Sea, which is below sea level. The Dead Sea Power Project would use the ocean to make hydro power, in a world first.
The ambition and scope of the project would be on a scale almost like terraforming Mars – and the environment is not much more hospitable.
Sea water has never been used in pumped hydro power, because sea water is all level at sea level, and hydro power requires higher reservoirs to work. Here’s how this completely new way to make hydro power using an ocean would work.
Normally hydro power is created by simple gravity as rushing water falls down from higher ground.
The idea behind normal hydro power storage is that it uses excess electricity to provide the off-peak power to pump water back up a hill into a vast reservoir. Then, when it is needed, it is released to rush down through turbines below, churning out electricity. Normally that electricity is provided by excess unwanted wind power at night and utilizes a reservoir at the top to hold the water (potential energy) till needed.
How this project would work:
A tunnel below sea level from the Mediterranean Sea would funnel sea water through a 10 meter diameter (30 foot) wide concrete tunnel 72 km ( 45 miles) to a very deep indentation in the rocky landscape about half way across land towards the Dead Sea. No energy would be needed to move the Mediterranean water to the inland sea water reservoir, because the water does not need to go uphill the whole distance.
Then, when needed during peak electrical demand; water would be released down to power turbines 423 meters below sea level on the shores of the Dead Sea which is 1,387 feet below sea level – generating up to 2,400 MW as needed.
The fresh Mediterranean Sea water spilling out on top of the Dead Sea would replenish and revitalize it with much less salty water, which would tend to float on top, while generating substantial power. The Dead Sea has been shrinking, and needs more water. Saving the Dead Sea would have tourism benefits. (Time Running Out for Saving Dead Sea Hotels)
The project would help ease power and water shortages in the region as hydro power could be used to power desalination.
It would have geo-political benefits as well. Crossing the borders of three entities, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Israel – this project leverages shared regional needs to provide a platform for shared problem solving.
All three areas would have access to this Mediterranean water for desalination plants to help ease the chronic water shortages, and the electric power would be sold into the existing electrical grids of all three regions to pay the cost of the Project.