Search site

Centre for Integrated Energy Research

Dinorwig Visit

On Tuesday 5th April a group of Doctoral Training Centre students and other PhD students from SPEME visited Dinorwig power station in North Wales.

Students at Dinorwig

This has become an annual event for DTC students, as it represents a great chance for students to observe the issues of power supply and energy demand at first hand.

Dinorwig power station is a pumped storage hydroelectric station. Water drains from a lake high up on the mountainside, through massive pipes and turbines, into a lake at the bottom of the mountain. Once the valves are opened and the water starts flowing, the power station can come up to full power in 12 seconds. This is vital to the national power supply, as it enables the system to cope with rapid surges in demand, for example when millions of people put the kettle on after a popular TV programme. If the station did not exist, other power stations would have to operate at much higher capacities (and generate larger emissions of CO2 and other pollutants) to cope with the surges and avoid large‐scale blackouts.

When the demand has dropped (at night), excess power in the grid is used cheaply to pump water back up to the high lake ready for the next surge. In this way, the power station actually uses more energy than it produces!

The students toured the underground station and viewed the enormous valves and turbines, and the central machine hall, the largest man‐made underground space in Europe.

They also had time to visit Dolbadarn castle and have a look around the museums and tourist attractions of Llanberis.